Saturday, April 24, 2010

Devo - Fresh

In commemoration of last week's Record Store Day, synth-pop legends Devo have given us another taste from their upcoming album Something For Everybody.  The album will be the band's first in twenty years and if this new single is any indication of things to come, we are in for quite a treat.  "Fresh" comes off as a new, more aggressive and contemporary version of the band that has already spawn numerous dance floor classics.  While incorporating the same rhythmic drive and bounce that made LCD Soundsystem's earlier material so contagious, the single retains the essential elements that made Devo stand apart from their contemporaries.  Despite their many years, the lyrics still hold a zany quality that few artists can pull off successfully without sounding overly eccentric, and each synth-line punches with a precision that carries this single into category of being one of the best dance/rock songs to be released so far this year.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Don't Look Back #4: The Mekons - Fear and Whiskey

"I went out the other night / fear and whiskey kept me going / I swore somebody held me tight / but there's just no way of knowing"

Apart from continuously seeking refuge in alcohol and living with the fear of seeing your society slowly deteriorating, The Mekon's classic album Fear and Whiskey had a lot reason to be unsure of how it could possibly fit into the punk rock scene in 1985.  The band tirelessly struggled for one long week to create a working class hybrid of country music and post-punk that incorporates instruments not commonly seen in bare bones rock, such as the fiddle and the slide guitar.  Despite country's traditionally conservative leanings, Fear and Whiskey's central themes lie in individual isolation and the feeling of helplessness that arises when abuse of power and social injustice permeate our everyday lives.  These grim topics may not sound like the adequate material for making soaring drinking anthems but its spontaneity and complete embrace of failure is what propels this album to greatness.  The fragility of each song not only makes the album unpredictable, but also allows the listener to share in the melancholy triumph of knowing, that though everything we've struggled for might be taken from us, despair is not an impediment but rather a call to arms and camaraderie.

The Mekons - Hard To Be Human Again

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Primavera Preview #6: The Almighty Defenders

Already having run their reputation of nonsensical belligerence into the ground, The Black Lips have decided to team up with King Kahn and BBQ, so as to squeeze out every last possible drop from their limited musical capabilities.  It seems that the concept of The Almighty Defenders is to put the typical Lips' track through a soul/gospel filter, which like its predecessor, can be gratifying in its best moments but often leaves us feeling disappointed or even cheated after a complete listening.  The mentality behind creating a rushed production works well if the spontaneity of the moment leads to a more direct and veracious performance, but it seems as if this incarnation is trying to disguise a lack of ambition or audacity with two-dimensional nostalgic ploys.  Still, there are plenty of knee slapping and foot stomping numbers to make the experience enjoyable enough for a limited number of listens and their live set will surely feature all the familiar buffoonish antics and drunken banter that we've come to associate with these surprisingly charming rascals.

The Almighty Defenders - Cone Of Light

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Happy Brithday - Happy Birthday (Sub Pop)

All hail Brattleboro, Vermont's latest offering of bedroom pop and teenage heartthrob, Happy Birthday.  Their Sub Pop debut, which features all the ingredients to make up a complication of 70s throwaway glam singles minus the bloated front, has been making waves within the sea of new bands that come off as nothing more than new twee with a sugary aftertaste of grunge.  Imagine what the pitiful reading of poetry by a loveless high school student might sound like accompanied alongside hyperactive guitar licks, and then you can begin to fathom what half an hour with Happy Birthday really entails.  Though ephemeral singles like "Girls FM" and "Cracked" might have originally been causes for excitement, as a whole, the LP is difficult to digest due to its uneasy shifting and departures that more often than not lead to nowhere.  Change within a song is a sure way to keep your listeners engaged but carelessly throwing in fidgety variations just for the sake of covering the monotony of an arrangement makes it easy for one to lose interest when initial expectations are so high.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Black Monday Mix

 Our holiest of weeks has come to an end and that can only mean one thing: new mix!

Black Monday
A Pots and Pans Wash Up:
1. ATV - Alternatives
2. Spacemen 3 - Transparent Radiation
3. Sonic Youth - Catholic Block
4. Suicide - Ghost Rider
5. The Fall - LA
6. The Chameleons - Monkeyland
7. The Mekons - Psycho Cupid
8. Section 25 - Looking From A Hilltop
9. Siouxie and the Banshees - Cities In Dust
10. Blank Dogs - L Machine
11. Big Black - The Model
12. Esplendor Geométrico - Moscú está helado
13. Wire - Another the Letter
14. Crocodiles - Flash of Light
15. Ciccone Youth - Into the Groove
16. The Clean - Tally Ho
17. Golpes Bajos - No mires a los ojos de la gente
18. Talking Heads - Girlfriend is Better
19. Radio Futura - Estatua del Jardín Botánica

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Don't Look Back #3: The Dukes of Strasophear - Psonic Psunspot

Rarely does a band get the opportunity to create a second self which pays homage to a genre that has not aged well with time and is only followed by a small horde of notorious collectors and enthusiasts.  XTC's notoriety however lies in their ability to rejuvenate, pull out, and congeal the best parts of what would normally an undecipherable jumble of compositions.   The Dukes of Stratosphear were a short lived experiment that produced little material but whose influence can be heard on XTC's definitive record Skylarking.  Made with practically no budget from their parent record label,  the members masked themselves under archaic pseudonyms like the Red Curtain and Lord Cornelius Plum and created near perfect hard copies of late 60s psychedelic pop.  Though intended to be marketed as a long lost compilation of the era, traces of XTC's rambling dexterity can be heard all over the band's only full-length, Psonic Psunspot.  The lively opener, "Vanishing Girl", unashamedly tips it hat to jangle bands like The Byrds and The Hollies while discovering a new quaint approach to the remaking of a primitive sounding variety.

The Dukes of Stratosphere - Vanishing Girl