Thanks for the song-by-song analysis! You poked holes in all the right places, I admit. “Throw It In The Bag” is a throwaway track, but a very enjoyable one! And yeah, why didn’t they give Beyonce real strings on “Halo”? Word. I still stand by “Freaky Freaky”–did you hear those descending staccato “oh oh oh ohs” on the hook? They would not have been out of place in a Puccini aria d’amore.
I tried to make a playlist of your songs to stream here at work, but “Girls” + “Laura” + “Album” do not a googleable set make, alone or together, so I still haven’t heard that one. I also couldn’t find the Kurt Vile song–apparently he’s too obscure for myspace.
But otherwise, I got to hear your tunes. Boy! Everything is so ’60s these days. And weirder, several of your songs feature early ’70s slightly psychedelic/slightly meedly-meedly guitar solos.
Dirty Projectors: “Cannibal Resource”
I saw this band a couple years ago–not even sure they’d released an LP yet at the time. I’d never heard of them and did not know what to expect. Then this Brooklyn ganglemeister gets on stage, looking like he hadn’t seen a shower or plate of food in days, and sings his fucking lungs out. I was like, “Damn, what is this?” There were trumpets. Rhythms unfamiliar to my sheltered ears. Harmonies. Unfortunately, the back-up gals looked totally bored, but at least they weren’t as obviously bored as the band who opened for them–this little band Vampire Weekend, ever heard of them? Vampire Weekend actually said, “So, what do you guys do out here in Indiana?” SERIOUSLY, fuck those dudes. Anyway. Next time I heard about the Dirty Projectors, one of my avant-jazz buddies was seeing them out in NYC. Again, I was like, “Damn.” This band does what bands should do: they challenge our idea of genre and create something new and amazing we never imagined could exist. Even avant-jazz people agree.
Flashy Python: “Skin and Bones”
What the hell? This song is sooo ’70s. At first, a ramshackle Pavement-like guitar and bass stumble onto the scene. And then we hear a Robert Plant caterwaul in the background. I got to say, CYHSY guy’s voice is a little unpleasant to me, though he sure is effective. And this song kinda meanders, just like a ’70s psychedelic rock song. I love the guitar solos at the end–they are hilarious and pretty exhilarating, but why is dude singing over them? This is a very loose analogy: it’s like CYHSY guy is the Moz on the Smith’s first album: he doesn’t know when to shut up and let the Johnny Marr speak for himself. He still has time to learn, though, and maybe CYHSY guy will have a long and fruitful solo career. And maybe Flasy Python’s cock rock guitarist will become the most famed indie guitarist of all, and later join Modest Mouse. Like I said, loose analogy.
Atlas Sound feat. Noah “Walkabout”
Another strong aesthetic decision: all jingle, Beach Boys, Kinks, reverby vocals washed under a shimmery guitar. To remind you it is not 1963, the dudes add some weird crackly shit. This song would be in the background when you’re drunk, spinning around a room, staring at the ceiling, beer still in hand. And in that it makes me slightly dizzy, even if it feels fun and exciting at the time.
Grizzly Bear: “While You Wait For the Others”
Why isn’t the guy from “Two Weeks” singing on this song? I just really, really don’t like this person’s voice. It’s so weak and flimsy, not robust and sweet like the main singer on “Two Weeks.” But the voice only really grates for the minimalist portion of the song, and then this song builds into a great sorta Nashville or even bluesy swagger. Then it retreats. Sure, I feel the tension, but why can’t the whole song be as great as the swagger part? However, the waiting really pays off: in a Dirty Projectors-esque breakdown, the voices echo and dissolve into a swooping, glorious release. Okay, so this song is awesome, but you saw me resisting for a while. Thanks for making me wait to hear another great Grizzly Bear track.
The Smith Westerns: “Imagine Pt 3”
Seeing the title of this song, I was obviously reminded of John Lennon. Well, this song is no “Imagine,” but, um, is that Ringo Starr on the drums? The strings, the lighthearted, rhyming lyrics about love–this song pieces together several Beatles eras, but not in a schlocky or obvious way: there’s some psychedelia and lofi stuff sprinkled on top. And we all know that even in their shaggy, early ’70s days, no self-respecting Beatle would let their pristine melodies get buried under fuzz. The best part of this song is that glorious breakdown at the end. It feels like a coda at the end of an epic. It feels like the triumphant exhale of a warrior after battle. Or it just feels like some high school kids swept by the power of rock n roll, too young to be jaded and cold like so many indie rockers. Keep it up, guys.
Flaming Lips: Silver Trembling Hands
Things change, things stay the same: kind of like the Flaming Lips, who I have not thought about since 2003. It seems things aren’t so different from what I remember. You know? I just don’t care for anything psychedelic. Or maybe I can only handle it in small doses. But when someone is singing “when she’s high…” that’s when I’m like, “Next song, yo.” But it’s hardly fair to say, “Dude, sorry, not a fan of the ‘Lips.” This song has urgency, tension, textural variety…yeah. I just won’t go back to listen to it very often.
Animal Collective: Brother Sport
Me and Jeff used to make fun of this song a lot. I mean, AC was kind of asking for it with the whole Austrian boys folk chorus thing. BUT! That said, this song shocked me the first time I heard it–so nerdy, so silly. (I think shock upon a first listen is always a good thing.) I am also shocked that this band is the hottest shit indie band ever, because they are extremely unhip in their passion for melody and earnestness. The truth of it is, AC are a bunch of composers, and this song is the finale to their ultimate musical. Notably, musicals are not cool, and I don’t think AC are cool either, but a bunch of invested music nerds who go where their heart decides. That is a good thing.
Yo Nige–this was TOO much fun! I admit, I felt totally constrained making a playlist with NOTHING indie on it. This year I listened to lots of singles–less so albums–but even so, I couldn’t make a complete, well rounded playlist without being tempted by Bat For Lashes, or Annie, or even…Wavves. (I like Wavvvvves more than I’ve ever let on!)
Thank you for introducing me to these bands! I will have to respond to your theories about varieties in production another time. My brain is so tired.