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Posts Tagged ‘Post-Punk’

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.

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Black Light Burns Holes In Bedsheets

Posted by Scotio on June 28, 2008

It’s been a little over a year since Wes Borland, former Limp Bizkit guitarist, released the material from his creative output known as Black Light Burns. Since then, he’s gone on to underground success for his new act; tearing up club stages, and displaying a much more gothic styling to his former stage persona. For the most part, he’s had a good deal of nice reviews for the debut album Cruel Melody, but there are always naysayers no matter what you do or who you are. Still, fans of the band have been eager to hear the next album from the act, as Borland said that he will waste little time hitting the studio up to release it. Then, it was announced that the next offerings from the band would be a CD/DVD combo. The anticipation rose. Then, it was announced that the CD would be full of covers and other little odds and ends that didn’t make the debut album. At that point, the anticipation froze. “Cover album? WTF!” the fans said. Then, when they announced the list of cover songs, it was revealed that you couldn’t find something reasonable to allow hearts to soar for eagerness of hearing the BLB crew ripping through the tunes. But, still, as shaky as the fans were, they were still oddly curious to know what the material would sound like. Me, being a fan of the band, I was similarly eager, yet slightly put off. After all, BLB is an Industrial band. There aren’t any Industrial covers or material that inspired Industrial music being thrown in the pot.

So, when I received the album, you could only imagine my wanting and stalling of hitting the play button to listen. Still, curiosity always controls in the end, doesn’t it? The moment it came on, I will admit, I as still riding the fence. But, the twenty second mark hit, and I found myself lost in the world where Black disappears and White glows with a blue hue. The cover of Lard’s “Forkboy” sounded incredibly energetic and extremely chaotic. Borland’s vocals on the track, amazingly, are really great. He doesn’t even sound like Wes. He sounds like a man possessed. A creature hidden inside of the enigmatic music maker. Something that headbangers would flock to see in a live performance. The song assaults the listener with its aggressive guitar work and the hair-pulling visualization of the singer in front of the mic. In truth, it took me back to the days of the Broken EP. If you don’t know what that is, then you’re really wasting your time reading this review in the first place, aren’t you?

What followed next was the thriller, Love And Rocket’s “So Alive.” Again, outside of his realm, Borland’s vocals seem perfect. The Industrial reformation of the song seems so brilliant. It isn’t heavily distorting, nor isn’t playing a quiet backseat role to the movement of the melody. Like a fine Chef’s work, it seasons the song just right. The Post-Punk attack that is Sisters Of Mercy’s “Lucretia My Reflection” seems like it would be such an off-shot for Borland & Co. Yet, with his insanely brilliant insight, he tames that beast and makes it his bitch. Riding it with such insecure confidence that you’d might even want to go and check his location of birth . . . maybe he’s a Brit in disguise. It perfectly captures that “Look at me, I’m shying away” feeling that Robert Smith tagged as Post-Punk Perverted Cynosureness(he didn’t create that term, I just tagged him as that).

There are some really odd parts that might take a few listens to get it easily down to swallow. Like their rendition PJ Harvery’s “Rid Of Me.” Don’t know, but after hearing the great covers before it, it just sets out as being awkward. Another one is Fiona Apple’s “On The Bound.” It’s not bad. It’s just so far fetched from what you’ve been hearing. That is, of course, if you never heard Borland’s Big Dumb Face. And, speaking of BDF, they even do a cover of one of their songs “Blood Red Head On Fire.” I always thought it was odd when someone does a cover of their own songs. Is that even truly declared a cover? But, I will state that it is a more cohesive sound than the original. I suppose because he has an actual band doing the positions and it isn’t all on him.

After the 10th track, the music is switched over to original compositions by the band. What kicks it off is the song “Drowning Together, Dying Alone.” It, for the most part, is the sister track of the song “New Hunger” that was featured on their first LP. Housing acoustic guitars in place of electronics and electric guitars makes the song more mellow and dreamy . . . despite its morbid title. Also, being entirely instrumental sure helps with that. “Falling” also contains material heard before. Expanding on a solo that was featured on the debut album, as well. The slightly goofy electronic melody played throughout (I couldn’t tell if it was simply a guitar with a weird effect or an actual electronic styling) sounds almost like it’s 8-bit/Chiptune styled.

Mr. Borland dives deeper into the Industrial world on the track “Ribbons.” Though it’s under a minute and a half long, it leaves a lasting and eerie impression on listeners. Something that isn’t easy to accomplish, and you wouldn’t have actually expected from this unexpected guy. This song starts the trend of very schizophrenic songs that follow after it. Stuff that seems to have been created when Wes wasn’t eager to take his medication. Stuff that, though it’s so strange, you find yourself questioning your own sanity for your enjoyment of it.

All in all, this album is not only a surprising one, but one that I feel bad about having questioned it in the first place. All those out there that are on the unknown about checking this out, and have enjoyed the first album needs to go out on a limb and snatch this up. In a very bold statement, I will encourage you to download this first, to see if it does tickle your fancy fully, then, if it does, purchase it and support him. Though he does come from a heavily commercial band, he is now on the underground circuit. So, every piece of support does let him know that his efforts at branching out are worth it.

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Save Your Soul Because She Wants Revenge

Posted by Scotio on May 19, 2008

Clearly, She Wants Revenge is one of my favorite bands. They were heavily criticized about “ripping off” the Interpol sound. I didn’t think so. I thought they leaned more towards the Dark New Wave sound of Post Punk more than Interpol did . . . plus added in more sexiness to the whole thing. Their first two LPs got brutally attacked by Mainstream critics. Totally unjust for a groovy band with truly high octane potential. Finally leaving Geffen behind and pushing out their own music, the Terrific Twosome pushes out their Save Your Soul ep as their first offering. It’s only a 4 song serving, and it leaves you salivating for more. Starting off the EP is the song “Sugar.” The duo pushes an actual drummer on this. Something that they weren’t known to do in their studio recordings. And, it seriously pushes things up a notch. The bassline is pure gyration inspiration. The drum attacks offers up it’s own sense of sex appeal while Justin pulls it all together with his Joy Division‘s Ian Curtis influenced singing style. Justin & Adam must have used all of the money towards their studio. Yes, it pays off. Following up the buttery smooth mood is “Save Your Soul” the title track to the whole shebang. This song, the guitar riffs remind you of the SWR that you’re most familiar with. But, that lasts for only about 15 seconds into the song. Then, they bring out their new guns to the party, and they make those feet dance. The chorus is an easy chanting “Save your soul before it’s too late/Save your soul before it’s too late… `Cuz nothings going to change my mind/Nothings going change the ways.” It’s so infectious that it should require a vaccine to prevent you from being absorbed if you’re not normally into this type of music. Marching behind this song is the tune “Sleep.” Bass heavy as it wants to be, and old school Post-Punk drumming to make all you children of the lost generation feel found once again. It’s the most normalized rock song that you’re going to get from this. You’d be a fool not to feel the UK’s influence lacing everything about this song. The closer track, “A Hundred Kisses,” is the most envelope pushing song of all four. Coming in with a sound resting somewhere between Shoegazing and Ambience, they follow it up with something that they aren’t used to pulling out on their audiences: An Acoustic Guitar. The most mellow of all of the songs, and the most heartwarming of them, as well. It’s a captivating tune, and it demands that you fall into Stockholm Syndrome for it. The band is going in new, more bold directions. I guess with their creative freedom finally being held in their hands brings out the best in them. So, if this is just a 4 track delivery, I can’t wait to see what they are going to do for their next Full-Length that is supposed to reach their fans later this year.

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Magnetic Morning Draws In Listeners

Posted by Scotio on May 2, 2008

Adam Franklin (of the bands Swervedriver & Toshack Highway) & Sam Fogarine (of the band Interpol) have teamed up and created The Setting Suns, then renamed it to Magnetic Morning . . . and released a self-titled five (5) song EP. Filled with vibrantly smooth guitar work and purely driven drumtracks, the album stands tall on the path to a very productive side-project for both members. They released the album on Record Store Day to help give a nod to those record stores theat refuse to die easy to the corporate giants. On the first track “Cold War Kids,” you’re greeted with softly alluring guitar plucks and subtle yet sober bassline. When the drums kick in and Franklin starts vocally stirring up the mix, it’s officially too late. They have you stuck to them like a paper clip to a horseshoe magnet. Franklin’s voice is like velvet over top of this retro slow-pop musical masterpiece.  The two-piece follow that delightful tune up with an equally mesmerizing one titled “Yesterday’s Flowers.” Again, following the formula of Pop music’s greatest decade, Forgarine’s drums give way to the two-step & sway motion that was popular during that time. The second track of this EP fits well in the backdrop of a very lonely and saddening moment, and for a the first kiss between a newly formed couple at a school dance. “The Way Love Used To Be” is a song that reminds you of the way movies used to be. Specifically Cameron Crowe ones. They pick up the tempo for this one, but don’t kill you with adrenaline or speed. It’s just soft enough to throw you in the flow of the breeze while you’re enjoying a smooth day skateboarding, surfering, or even cruising around in your convertible that only comes out during the summer months. The music plays the key figure of this tune, even slowing down so you can really take a moment to pay attention to the very delightful details at the end, and Franklin’s voice is just along for the assist. The slowest and most introspective song on here is the strangely titled “DontGoToDreamState.” No, that’s not a typo on my part. That’s the actual song title. It can be compared as the sonic interpretation of the space between being awake and sleeping. The place where everything is hazy, but you can still make out what’s going on if you look closely. Which makes it hard to try to listen to the plea to not enter the dreaming world. The only reason I could see not slipping to sleep would be due to the fact that you’d miss the reprise of the first song called “Cold War Kids (Get Claudius).” Sounding just a big more dynamic and orchestrated than the original. Or, that just could be something my imagination created because Franklin’s vocals are not present for this rendition. But, then again, being that it is longer than the original, I must retreat back to my basic instinct on this song. All in all, this new side project, which is renamed after half of a split EP Franklin’s band Toshack Highway had with Sianspheric, is not only charming, but captivating in a sense of pop music that most only border around and few actually dive in completely.

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