Monday, April 24, 2006

Plugged in & ready to fall

Last night saw the Alkaline Trio. I was sort of indifferent about going, figured it would just be something to do on a Sunday night, but I ended up having a really good time. They played the Goddamnit album in it’s entirety, Matt and Dan each did a few acoustic songs (which brought back memories of the in-store performance at Desirable Discs in Garden City from way back) then played for about another half hour after that. It was funny hearing all the cheering from the crowd when Matt was talking about all the great fans that had been with them for the last 10 years. When the average age of the people in the crowd 10 years ago would've been about, oh, 9 or 10. on to what I'm listening to...

The new Om album "Conference of the Birds" is quickly becoming my favorite of the year so far behind Current 93's "Black Ships Ate The Sky". (and as luck would have it, those 2 bands are appearing on a split 10" record to be released in May). It took a few listens for it to really click, but this is nothing short of a masterpiece. How Chris and Al can do so much with just drums and a bass is beyond me. It's like building a full sized Eiffel Tower with matchsticks and Elmer's glue. The opening "At Giza" is aptly named. It has a definite middle eastern influence to it. It sounds like the pyramids. It's gigantic, it's mysterious, there are secrets to it that can be revealed if you're willing to explore it. They're tapping into something ancient, timeless, that was here long before you and will be around long after your bones have turned to dust. The bass is utterly hypnotic, starting off soft and slow, lulling you deeper and deeper into its trance and the mantra-like vocals pull you further in. Then it just keeps building and building into a motherfucker of a crescendo about 13 minutes into it. If you're a believer, you can feel it starting down in the small of your back and slowly rising up your spine until it explodes out the top of your head, opening your third eye in the process. The release is almost orgasmic. Om is taking stoner metal to the astral plane, dudes. After that, it's "Flight of the Eagle", no teasing this time, just a thick, Sabbath worthy bass line and the drums anchoring it like the stones of a pyramid while the vocals chant and lock you into the trance created on the first track until you don't even notice that 17 minutes have passed. Lather, rinse, and repeat. This is metal for the mind and soul.

I'm not exactly sure what's going on with music writers at places like Entertainment Weekly and other mags of that caliber, but all the reviews of the new Yeah Yeah Yeahs "Show Your Bones" album I've read kept comparing it to the White Stripes/garage rock stuff. They couldn't be further from the truth. Sure a few songs have big, gnarly, dirty hooks (Fancy, Honey Bear) but it owes a lot more The Pretenders than the White Stripes. I have to say that my favorite on the album is the single, Gold Lion. Like any great pop single it burrows itself into your brain and you'll still be singing the "ooooh OOOOH" vocals hours after you last heard it while you're in line at the bank. Top to bottom it's an incredibly solid album and shows a lot of progress from Fever To Tell. The Yeah Yeah Yeahs clean up pretty good, the slicker production on Show Your Bones does a lot more for me than the post-punky/electro sound from Fever To Tell, and also shows that they can progress beyond a flavor-of-the-month trend and evolve into something else. Some other New York bands should take note. (I'm lookin' at you, Casablancas)

O.K. so I like a lot of what could be called "pussy music" (Belle & Sebastian, Elliot Smith, Iron & Wine, etc) but even I feel like a bit of a ponce listening to Keane. I mean sure it's well crafted pop songs with pianos and stuff, but come on lads, grow some balls. The Guillemots must've felt the same way. Their debut "From The Cliffs" is definitely worth a listen. They write really catchy tunes with piano (and horns and synths and great string arrangements) that don't make you feel like you're in a khakis commercial when you listen to them. "Trains To Brazil" is my favorite on the album, referencing mid-90's brit pop in the vein of Pulp.

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