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Monday, March 28, 2011
New Music Reviews: Wye Oak-Civilian, The Strokes-Angles
On the musical surface, comparisons can be made to Beach House in that both bands are two piece who use guitar, drums and keyboards to invoke a whole lot of emotion. But really, these two bands are polar opposites. While Beach House's "Teen Dream" soared to new heights in every song, "Civilian" takes the approach of dragging you down every opportunity. It feels like someone grabbing at your ankles in a deep lake and pulling you into the dark, murky waters around you. And There's no bottom in sight. Lead singer and exceptionally underrated guitarist, Jenn Wasner, croons in every song like Sarah MacLachlan on Quaaludes. It could be a tiresome formula, but the songs are way too smart and consistently good to matter. Like the album cover, your diving into desolation....feet first.
If you're looking in to an excellent down trodden but extremely good batch of warm songs, "Civilian" delivers in spades and I would highly recommend it. If you aren't into the feeling of bittersweet and hypnotic songs and don't like the feeling of emerging yourself into deep, dark,desolate places, "Civilian" is not going to work for you.....at all. Here's to hoping this duo's star continues to rise through the year, they deserve some recognition for "Civilian".
Hot As Day
And while it can be fun at times to watch a band explore different avenues for their band to delve into next, it can be a bit frustrating to listen to an album that has absolutely no musical compass. It's like the cliche of the band has come to a fork in the road and could go back down the street to the roots from where they started or take a whole new approach to their sound. Hey, either/or is fine with me. Instead, it seems they haven't made up their mind yet and have decided to keep it parked at the crossroads and maybe go fishing for eighties new wave vibes and bossa nova guitar licks.
Despite it's haphazard "let's try this" approach, there is still some things to like about "Angles". Albert Hammond Jr. works his guitar to a frenzied calculated winner on the choruses of "Two Kinds Of Happiness" even if the verses are a little too close to late Cars like material. Julian Casablancas' vocals on "Taken For A Fool" take a ride through eighties new wave into a wonderful chorus "You get taken all the time for a fool...You're so gullible but I don't mind" and even the bossa nova like guitar and flourishes of keys on the end song "Life Is Simple In The Moonlight" is enjoyable, if not entirely memorable. Where things work best is when the band just lets loose like on the cool strut of "Gratisfaction" or they show how to be a too smart band for rock 'n roll on "Under Cover Of Darkness" as Casablancas blatantly states the fact "Everybody's been singing the same song for ten years."
It was said that everyone in the band contributed in one way or another on "Angles", a free for all. And the ideas on "Angles" are abundant and much more interesting than their previous "The First Impressions Of Earth" which just fell flat all around. But it would've been nice for someone or anyone to take the reins here and say, you know, this is what we should focus on. Because listening to an album that doesn't gel and is simply a band trying to find out what works best as it goes along can be a bit of a drag. "Angles" is not terrible, but totally unnecessary. They said their already recording their follow up. Let's hope the Strokes can pinpoint what they want to do next time out. That way everyone can love it or hate it. Not say "What's Up With That?"
Under Cover Of Darkness
Two Kinds Of Happiness
Taken For A Fool