Friday, April 15, 2005

New Stuff on the Old Playlist:

The National - Alligator. This is my album of the week. With the tried and true simple rock band formula of a) strong vocalist (sounds kinda like Morrissey but straight), b) good counterpointing guitars and percussion (sounding like the best Stone Temple Pilots), and c) simple but memorable lyrics, this unpretentious little album shines. It hits all the right notes, worms its way into your memory with catchy hooks, and doesn't overstay its welcome. Bravo, The National.

Dogs Die In Hot Cars - Please Describe Yourself. Okay, this is what this oddly named band sounds like: A ska band, sad and disillusioned after the end of their favorite movement, wanders into a carnival, drops some acid, and gets overtaken by the lush colors and harmonies present. They lose their horn section in the ensuing chaos of the night (the three dazed members get absorbed into the carnival, being mistaken for freaks), and the now smaller band finds a new, pyschadelic, sound in the indie rock vein. Their songs are like that game at the carnival where you throw a little steel donut onto a sea of bottlecaps and hope for the best, as such, their songs fail more than they suceed, but when they work, when the dozen different elements actually gel to form a coherent melody, the result is fun and full of creativity - if not originality. If I didn't know better, I'd say they were perfect California pop.

Stars - Set Yourself on Fire. A lot of people loved Stars' previous album, Heart. I thought it kinda sucked. And I tried to like it. During my Broken Social Scene frenzy of 2003, I grabbed anything related to them. And I saw Stars perform, unimpressively, before a BSS show. So, when this new album began getting heaps of praise and airplay at my favorite radio station ever,, I thought to myself, "Oh no, not again." And then weeks later, finally downloaded the fucker. And I so fucking glad I did. This is one of the most interesting albums of the year. I feel like I need a few more months to fully "get" it, but I what I hear in it now is an aggressive attack on indie pop, as much as BSS's You Forgot It In People was an attack on mainstream pop. The main difference between the two is precedent and the ever important musical question, "What can I get away with it?" Like Dogs Die in Hot Cars, a lot of the songs don't work, but that is a testament to their will, to their desire to try new things, and be as creative as they can. Another fine record to the add to the growing list of Montreal brilliance.

Bloc Party - Silent Alarm. Alright, people, listen up. These guys are not that great! They're good. There are moments of awesomeness, truly inspired flourishes and lyrics. There are fun beats and fascinating song arrangement. But to hear some websites and magazines talk these days, you'd think these guys were the new Arcade Fire. Well, they're not. Trust me. I'm not going to pull the whole "they sound like these other guys from twenty years ago too much" card (cause I hate when people do that to my favorite bands), I'll just ask to chill out a little on the Bloc Party fellatio. 2005 has so far been a great year for music and there's a lot more albums coming out, so why focus all your energy on one good (but not brilliant) album. K?

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