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Mar 232009

Pitchfork awarded this album a stunning, near-perfect review, and given their penchant for lauding bands with cool names and unconventional music (even if they suck), I was hesitant to accept this. Then, throw in the fact that AC’s previous albums, although boldly defiant, could never steer far from the sounds of a reckless cacophony. animalcollectiveceart

Merriweather Post Pavilion
continues in that¬†Kid A approach to deconstructing people‚Äôs notions of what constitutes a pop-rock song. Scant use of guitar and drums with swirling, delicate layers of synth loops, bells, whistles, and odd blips combined with their unique vocal approach sometimes culminates in a maniacal and fantastical din – the sound of Willy Wonka‚Äôs Air Conditioner if it was on the fritz. It’s a Pet Sounds with no restraint, but I‚Äôm pretty sure that‚Äôs what they are going for. The Beach Boys comparison isn‚Äôt helped by the layered, echo-y yearnings of Panda Bear‚Äôs voice, but his soft and scary Brian Wilson – discorporated, floating above asynchronous waves of sound – is the high point in some of their music. ‚ÄúGuys Eyes,‚Äù one of the more coherent and direct tracks, and ‚ÄúMy Girls‚Äù expand with his voice, as do the ethereal backing vocals – reaching out of the din with eerie softness – on ‚ÄúLion in a Coma.‚Äù

This album is a watermark and it definitely does its job in merging indie and experimental in ways that challenge the listener, but (as I draw the ire of the hipsters), even though it is superbly produced, music like this can‚Äôt help but seem muddled. Live, with some lights and video, this material may be staggering, but it is performance art. AC is groundbreaking, fresh, and sure to influence music for the next few years. It‚Äôs just that, up close, near the source, it’s too much. It needs to be distilled in the minds of other musicians and reinterpreted (it‚Äôs actually already happening) in order to make it palatable. Most of MPP‚Äôs content seemed a minute too long for songs of their nature. There isn‚Äôt a track that makes me want to turn it up. In fact, I found myself turning it down to escape the auditory mindfuck.

Article originally appeared in REAX #38, April 2009

Mar 232009

At first glance I asked myself, ‚ÄúWhy two EPs? Why not one good album?‚Äù Then I listened.¬†March of the Zapotec, apparently inspired by a recent sojourn in Oaxaca, Mexico, plays like the White Album for Mariachi bands. More than drenched, it is nearly indigenous-sounding music that is a result of Zach Condon‚Äôs Mexican stay, just as Balkan folk and French Chanson music heavily influenced the last release, The Flying Club Cup. The first track (more of an intro), ‚ÄúEl Zocalo,‚Äù erupts from the start. It’s like being thrown into the middle of a Mexican street carnival. Like past releases, Beirut are able to cleverly synergize an international folk sound with good ole American indie whimsy.beirut-march_of_the_zapotec-art

Realpeople Holland is a nifty piece of indie electro-pop. This one is more a return to the familiar Beirut, at least vocally Р“My Night with the Prostitute from Marseille” brings Condon’s forlorn, drunken bellowing up front and center. The electronic exploration of Condon’s musical construction on this EP is lighter and not so much like “your-favorite-indie-music-got-swallowed-by-the-World Music-section-of-the-record-store” sounds of other work. “Venice” maximizes feeling and mood with its muted horns bleeding through waves of electronica, and the instrumental “No Dice” seals it all a with a sugary retro kiss.

Article originally appeared in REAX #38, April 2009

Mar 112009

“Nothing Ever Happened” I like the shoegazer-y Sonic Youth / Pumpkins thing Derrhunter’s got goin’ on. I like the fact that the singer is kind of this homosexual outcast with that Abe Lincoln disease. It makes the music more believable. This last minute and 45 seconds of this song, the outro, made me like this band.

Mar 102009

The Tabernacle is one of my favorite venues in the southeast. It feels alive during good shows and this visit from MM is no exception. I think this is the first tour since Johnny Marr’s brief stint.

“Spitting Venom” is a vicious song live. It is powerful with frequent changes and massive crescendos.

The “Third Planet” is certain they’re bein’ watched …

“Talkin’ Shit About a Pretty Sunset” I fucking love this song.

Clip from “Satellite Skin”¬† At this poinhis was the second time I’d heard this song and I knew I liked it so I grabbed a clip.

This is Mimicking Birds opening for Modest Mouse. They were really good. The drummer kind of led the band and played with the crowd. He seemed to be holding back and punctuated their quiet music.

Japanese Motors, the first act. This is my favorite song from them. guh.

Mar 052009

Bat for Lashes sweet sophomore release is a sophisticated, edgy, sincere effort with loads of musical integrity.  sfw-bat-for-lashes-two-sunsTwo Suns is a sensible follow-up to her debut, taking the themes and style of the previous Рwith its haunting charm Рand expanding on it. Two Suns is sweeping and large for an “indie songstress.” Her style invokes names like Kate Bush, PJ Harvey, or Siouxsie Sioux without sounding like any of them. For instance, “Good Love” with its somber organ, tambourine and eerie vocal delivery is reminiscent of Mazzy Star without being a slavish knock-off.  “Two Planets” Рpsychedelic and experimental with its vocal twists and chilling melodies all driven by Timpani’s and hand claps Рreminds me of Bjork.  Both rich and sparse, this album is soaked in tasteful production, revealing a well produced, elegantly dark, but positively pop, gem.