OpinionHated

The Hated Opinionated One

Posts Tagged ‘Dance-Punk’

Miike Snow Lights A Frozen Flame

Posted by Scotio on June 10, 2009

miike-snow

Pop music seems to be making a serious comeback. With MGMT’s mega impact last year, it seems that these Pop Music Makers have been coming out of the woodworks like bugs after someone stomps on a rotting log(don’t act like I was the only one to do that as a child). Bringing their own coolness to the Pop genre with their Self-Titled LP is the trio known as Miike Snow. Yes, that’s a trio with a name that sounds like it belongs to a singular person. And, yes, that’s not a typo. There are 2 I’s in the first name(actually they are sort-of named after the Japanese director Takashi Miike). The trio consists of multi-instrumentalists Andrew Wyatt(of The A.M. & Fires Of Rome fame) and Christian Karlsson & Pontus Winnberg, also known as the Pop Producing duo Bloodshy & Avant. Of course hearing that Bloodshy & Avant are in the group would lead many to believe it’s filled with a bunch of Britney Spears rejected tracks. Oh, that is so not the case here.

Since “Animal” is the main single from the album, let’s start with that track, shall we? Oh, and not only is it their lead single, but also the leading/opening track for their LP. For the track, Wyatt sings like the adopted member of the band Genesis. Housing his vocal harmony somewhere between Phil Collins & Peter Gabriel(some may say a more “mature” Adam Levine sounding voice, to them I say “shut up”). To say the least, it’s eerily hypnotic. But, that’s not all that’s mesmerizing about this song. The trio constructed a back beat that plays like a Dub-influenced version of Dance-Punk(LCD Soundsystem, The Presets, Fujiya & Miyagi… to name a few artists of that genre). It’s hard not to sway your head side-to-side with this track pumping in your ears. Even if the lyrics doesn’t fully make sense(which seems to be a motif with this album) you still find yourself singing, or humming, along with the track. Suffice to say, their history of catchy pop tracks plays to their advantage here.

“In Search Of” is like a track that Nu-Ravers have been waiting all their lives for. Think of something along the lines of Hadouken!, but much better and more mature. There is no attack for people to be thrown around within the song, but there is a strong urgency to take to the dance floor and show off your glowstick movements under the strobe blacklights. This track contains no live instrumentation. Instead, it’s just pulse-setting synth work unleashed in it’s most impeccable form. With something as incredible as this finally revealed, you know that B&A will be getting hounded with questions from their Producees(it’s a word… even if it only exists in my world) asking why the hell have they been holding out on them. But, those bubblegum artists shouldn’t get too uptight. They would have never pulled that track off as sensationally as this trio does.

Oh, and since I did mention video game sounding music(Hadouken!, for those not keeping up), allow me to expand on that with the track “Cult Logic”. This track comes in like a super(pun intended) remix of the Super Mario theme song. If Nintendo is trying to stay in the area of “cool”, they would be wise to throw this track in their next Mario installment. Trust me, Big N, it will definitely pay off for you. To say that Mr. Wyatt hasn’t spent time with some folks of the Caribbean would HAVE to be a lie after listening to his vocal work on this piece. His melody, tone & pitch sounds like something you would expect Maxi Priest to express if he was still relevant today. This track is so well layered that just when you start to dissect the structure, you realize that you’re still only on the crust. They bring in and take out parts so fluidly that, though you notice it, you still perceive it as one cohesive image.

My personal standout track is “Silvia.” It could be how easily I can replace the name Silvia with the name of the one I hold dear, but I don’t think it’s that simple. For the first 1 minute and 10 seconds, you’re treated to a bare beat digital piano and dance synth accompanied by Wyatt’s voice slightly digitally altered(no, not Autotune. This is another type of digital filter applied to his voice). Then, after that time mark hits, in comes the rest of the beat. And, boy, does things shift. It goes from a slow and passionate tune to a pop love anthem, complete with cadence keeping snare hits. No, the track doesn’t stop there. More pieces are added in and built upon as the track continues down it’s 6 minute and 26 second mark(which makes it the longest track on the album). One sexy portion of the track is when the bridge comes in, and they move the music back to how it sounded at the start of the song. Only to, then, bring it in House music fashion so smoothly that it would make Benny Benassi blush with envy. They run Andrew’s voice through digital pitch changes from then to near the end of the track. Changing his voice to the point where it sounds like yet another synth to the music. “San Soleil” is one of the sexiest tracks I’ve ever heard in my life. It’s like a combination of Art Of Noise’s Moments in Love, the piano from Force M.D.’s Tender Love, Wyatt’s digitally filtered voice and an IDM synth. Yeah, it’s not very hard to see that they were inspired by old school R&B pop tunes for this one, here. Like all the other tracks, this one was executed remarkably. This is the track during and after a sensual session with a significant other. Don’t be surprised if some genius(and, I use that term loosely here) uses this track for such a moment in cinema.

It’s hard to deal with perfection. Equally as much when in opposition of and working with. But, there are moments when perfection is, well, perfect. It flows perfectly, it moves perfectly and it delivers perfectly. That’s what this album is. It’s pure Pop Music Perfection. Yeah, you heard that right. I said it, and I stand by it. It would be easy to declare this group this year’s MGMT, but that wouldn’t be fair. These three have had years toiling away at pop creations inside of the industry. They know what works and what doesn’t. With that, they used all of their knowledge and made sure that THIS works in every sense. It doesn’t have to make sense, it just has to make you dance. Just be ready for the domination of Snow during the summer of 2009. They got the cool, and they aren’t going to make you chill.

Preview

Purchase [Amazon]

Purchase [iTunes]

Purchase [Tower] (Vinyl)

Posted in Music | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Yeah Yeah Yeahs Take The Offensive With It’s Blitz!

Posted by Scotio on March 12, 2009

its-blitzStop me if you heard this one before: A nerd, a goth & a fashionista walk into a bar. They set up to play some songs, and end up having the whole bar wanting to be social misfits. You heard that one already? Well, I’m sure you’d have to had either lived on another planet or under the Earth’s surface to not have heard of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs by now. With their new album It’s Blitz! they unleash a lot of familiar and a bunch of new. Karen O, Nick Zinner & Brian Chase prove to the critics and fans that their once every three years LP output is more than enough to solidify their position in someone’s future Hall Of Fame.

To start off, let’s talk about the lead single, “Zero.” With Mr. Zinner’s guitars distorted and strumming along to the pulse of the synth makes heads bob like birds on the roost. Mr. Chase no longer plays the role as the third wheel in the band. His cadence is more than up to par, and his hi-hat hits draws the attention of anyone in the mood to boogie on down. Ms. O’s lyrics are the anthem for all those original hipsters who were hip to the YYYs before the media frenzy caught onto them. Letting all the Zeros out there know that they feel the same way. The song seems more like a statement of self expression in regards to their strange climb of fame. The weirdos & company totally have a track to cut a rug with, now. But, don’t be alarmed if the sheep follows them to the dance floor.

“Soft Shock” is even stronger in the force that is Synth-Pop. If not for nothing else but to see them perform all the synth work, I’d love to see this track done live. It’s hard to say this, but it seems that Karen O is the one playing the sidekick to this track. The work that Zinner & Chase put into the production of the track is just enticing. Brian keeps up with Nick’s amazing instrumental work. I’m sure Sitek’s production direction helped greatly in the making of it, as well. Wait, allow me to clarify. I, by no means, am trying to imply that Karen O’s work on this piece is minuscule & meaningless. It’s just that her vocals stood out so much more in their traditional style. In this formula, her voice seems, well, comfortable. It’s like it belonged here all along. So, for the more accustomed fan, it’s a bit throwing for the production to be so full and lively.

“Dull Life” comes off with a strange vibe. No, it’s not a bad track. It just sounds like something from the Throw Your Bones work. Whereas everything else is so strong and “different” for the band, that familiar sound seems to be holding them a bit back. No, not in general, but for this album. Though I love that sound, it isn’t well suited amongst these other vibrantly filled up pieces. For “Dragon Queen,” Tunde Adebimpe of TV On The Radio(Sitek’s main band) sings background for the entire song. The sound of the track comes off like something from the time of Disco. In fact, if you had a time machine, went back, and played them this track I’m sure they wouldn’t think that it was anything different from what they were already jamming to. So, don’t be surprised if James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem falls in love with this song and enforces it to be played everywhere he goes.

My official love track of this offering is “Hysteric.” It’s a YYYs take on Dream Pop. And, dreamy it is. Ms. O’s voice is soft & delicate on this track. She seems to be singing from her heart rather than her sass. “The cinders, the cinders/ They light the path/ Of these strange steps/ Take Us Back, Take Us Back/ Flow sweetly, hang heavy/ You suddenly complete me.” The lyrics indicate a couple that was once on the brink of destruction, only to allow that destruction to bring them back together and fall back in love. Zinner’s atmospheric instrumentation is epic in it’s lo-fi sort of way. It plays like the soundtrack to a dream. Chase’s drum work goes back to it’s original position within the band’s dynamic. But, it works even better than it did in the original structure. Rarely changing, but constantly pushing you to keep going. The ending with the tambourine & whistling is reminiscent of Old School Soul music.

What’s familiar is their producer of choice(the highly in demand Dave Sitek) and their brass outcast attitude. What’s new is their Dance-Punk gyrations, their symphony string additions, their acoustic implementations and their openly honest confessions. If you acquire their Deluxe Edition, you’ll be treated to Acoustic versions of some selected tracks from the album. Replacing all the electronic work with acoustic guitars and brilliant string performances. This three piece have showed that they can roll with the movement of musical shifts without selling their souls or cashing in their hearts. They were once a band paying hommage to a generation that they were only eye twinkles when it was alive. They didn’t try to emulate that sound, but rather put their own unique spin on it. With this album’s sound being updated to the generation that succeeds their original sound’s influences, the same has taken place. A nod to the dancing pop era, but in the fashion of the three strangies from Brooklyn. If they keep it up, they’ll always be behind . . . and since Retro is always the “new” new, they’ll always be ahead.

Preview

Purchase

Posted in Music | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Van She Tries To Tickle Your V-Spot

Posted by Scotio on August 8, 2008

Van She is an Australian band that I’ve been eager to hear an LP from since last year when I came across their self-titled EP debut. Granted, it didn’t come out last year, but that’s when I heard it. And, it was such a great sunny album. It was fully of the right pop influences from the 80’s that blended things together wonderfully. I know, I talk about how great some recent bands are with their imitation of 80’s sound, but this was different. This didn’t “remind” me of something from the 80’s, this FELT like something that was teleported directly from the vault of lost 80’s should-have-been hits. So, with my chance to actually review this album, I began salivating with eagerness.

I’ll state this right off the bat: This album is so not what I was expecting from this band. From the very first song(“Memory Man”), you’re hit with the realization that this band not only grew since their 2005 release, but also had the concept to almost reinvent themselves. I am always a fan of growth . . . if done in a proper and constructive way, of course. With that said, the band went from a sunny vacation spot anthemic band to a more Dance-Punk styled band that seem to add little pieces of Dream Pop to styles created by bands like LCD Soundsystem(Typically with the song “Strangers”), and even go so far as to throw in Shoegazing for the mix(Especially with the track “The Sea”). It just seems like they wanted more out of themselves than just synthesizer manipulations.

On the song “Talkin’,” they combine two things that you wouldn’t have expected, A digitalized Voice-Box & Radio Pop. Though you might think that you heard something like that before, just imagine someone like the iconic group Daft Punk teaming up with a more poppier David Lee Roth(California Girls style). Then, you could get a glimpse of how the song should sound. For a brief moment in the song(after the 2nd chorus), the beat turns completely digital and the vocals are uneffected. But, as I said, the moment is brief, so don’t think that you’ll start to hear what you heard on the EP. It’s over before it even starts.

Before you go and start having a little hissy fit over the change of style, you will find a revamped version of their song “Kelly” on this album. It sounds like the Older Brother of the original. The production is slightly tighter. The instrumentation has new little subtle additions to make it pop out to you more. It’s almost like they did a cover of their own track. The best way to compare it is like the changes that Mgmt. did to their song “Kids” between their Time To Pretend EP and their Oracular Spectacular LP. This track has always been their standout piece for me. It was the song that I based them on. That one track that just shone brighter amongst all the others.

Tracks like “So High”(which just screams to be used if there’s ever a Flashdance remake) and “Virgin Suicide” is where they add in the pieces of their original outting with the style that they’ve picked up for this piece. The latter sounds like it would make a wonderful B-side for “Kelly” or even a good follow-up single, and the former is a display of their synthesizer arsenal attack(Though not as completely electronic as on “Temps Mort”). Then, a track like “A Sharp Knife” or “Cat And The Eye” is similar to that, but shows more comfort with them being in their Van She skin. Both songs seem like they stand firmly between where they wanted to reach for and where they originally started at. Those types of songs on the album shows them at their best and most dynamic.

Is the album brilliant? No. Let’s just be honest here. But, is the album fun, catchy, and wonderful? Hell yes, it is. Should you go out and buy this album immediately? Not without listening to, at least, half of it first. Make sure it’s your type of fun. Make sure it’s not too catchy to where when you play it everyone will want a copy and piss you of when they walk around chanting the lyrics. And, last, make sure that you have enough wonderful moments going on to where the tunes will feel right at home for your personal soundtrack. Standouts are “Kelly,” “Strangers,” “The Sea,” and “A Sharp Knife.”

Preview

Purchase

Posted in Music | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »