Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Jukebox Degree Scantron

Just some tunes I've heard lately, reviewed for ya:

LCD Soundsystem, "All My Friends": Well, this is certainly more, shall we say, emotive than their autopilotic "North American Scum" (by no means a bad song, just very...Cake-like). It builds on a simple, even childlike, piano repetition. Unsurprisingly considering it's LCD, a hi-hat enters into the equation soon after. If you've heard "Daft Punk is Playing at My House" or "Disco Infiltrator," not to mention the really early stuff like "Losing My Edge," you'll be surprised to find lead singer James Murphy actually singing on this track, rather than doing his best Mark E. Smith speak-shout impersonation (looks at the Sheriff knowingly). We are also treated to some Casio keyboard not unlike the Strokes circa "12:51." The earnestness of this song is frankly freaking me out, considering this is the band that once deadpanned: "I'm losing my edge to the art-school Brooklynites in little jackets and borrowed nostalgia for the unremembered eighties." Consider this song the biggest "build-up" ever, with the band gradually layering on more on more sounds until--hello--we've got a climax. This is a fist-pumping song. It's a "Wow, I'm usually so ironic but tonight I took ecstasy and I really, honestly love you, my friends" song. (Okay, ecstasy optional--I have felt this way on occasion.) The problem is, unless you know all the lyrics beforehand, you're not going to tolerate it long in the party mix. You could potentially cry over this song someday, though. While riding on your friend's shoulders.

The Shins, "Phantom Limb": This is maybe the most innocuous song ever written. It therefore borders on being incredibly boring. The drums and Korg keyboard are static throughout the whole thing, leaving any trace of a hook up to James Mercer's vocal. This is thankfully serviceable, and there's even a moment during the chorus when his falsetto reminds me of Seal's "Kiss From a Rose"--he must hit the same note or something. The lyrics seem to be about nothing in particular. Coincidentally, both LCD Soundsystem and the Shins mention "tans" in their songs; there is no further importance to this point, however. The video is cute at least: young children performing disturbing theatrical vignettes, a la the Crash Test Dummies' "Mm Mm Mm Mm" crossed with the end of Rushmore. If you find yourself whistling the final "ooh woo oohs" of this song while folding your laundry, you will have performed all that could possibly have been expected of you from the Sub Pop A&R people. In a tragic instance of "staring into the abyss and the abyss staring back," the Shins have managed to become blander than Zach Braff.

Bloc Party, "The Prayer": I still can't decide whether it's a good thing that I go into Bloc Party singles expecting a dance song and receive something much more complex. Is it me or is this song conspicuously TV on the Radio-like? The bass is much murkier, the beats blurred and fuzzy. There's also some weird humming business going on in the background. Like many Bloc Party songs, the lead-up to the chorus is jarringly ugly, the chorus itself cathartic. I approve, though not of the terrible video, particularly the scene where the hipster dancer girl is flinging glowing cigarette burn effects from her wrists. Laaaaame. Overall, not as immediately endearing as their last single, "Two More Years," but that was just a bastardization of "Banquest" and "Pioneers," anyway.

Basement Jaxx, "Take Me Back To Your House": You will breakdance to banjo like never fucking before with this one. I wish I knew who this singer was, because her combination of deadpan and totally perfect pop artistry is really sexy--like Emily Haynes (wink, wink). Who am I kidding, you really can't love this song until you see the video, which includes dancing Communist bears and Josef Stalin asking the heroine out on a date, sweet sound effects included. And let's not ignore the ephemeral nature of dance music here, people: you have roughly three weeks left to enjoy this song before it's as passe as "Dick in a Box." Use your time wisely.

Ted Leo + Pharmacists, "The Sons of Cain": I'm not going to lie to you: Leo is doing nothing new. But since that's roughly synonymous with "kicking as much heinie as ever," I have no complaints. Before I point anything else out, I will say that the production on this sounds amazing. If this is an indicator of the album as a whole we have much to look forward to. Thanks Brendan Canty of Fugazi! This is one of Ted's real spazzy songs, plus one of those where he's talking directly to you, world-weary lover of music. If I didn't know better, I'd say he's become indie rock's primal scream therapist, just angry enough to galvanize you around our fucked up political system, just hopeful enough to make you do some sort of Irish jig despite yourself. (Literally primal scream: check out the John Lennon-esque "heyyyyyyyYYYYYYYs" at the end there.) There isn't much in the way of a melody, but that's all right: this is the sort of sped-up rocker that Ryan Mackin could skank to (and most likely will). Me happy with all things Ted.

Perhaps there will be more installations of this post in the future, depending on people's interest.


Post a Comment

<< Home