Deerhoof – Vs. Evil Review

•March 7, 2011 • Leave a Comment

2011 has already welcomed some interestingly titled LP’s to the record shelves.  The Decemberists made a declarative statement concerning deceased monarchs and Iron & Wine touted the hygienic benefits of fornication.  But perhaps the cheekiest contestant in this year’s name game would be Deerhoof’s semi-self titled album, Deerhoof vs. Evil.

The title is a perfect fit for the band that puts the panda back in pandemonium.  With a sound that embraces the cute and cacophonic like a demonically possessed Tickle Me Elmo doll, you’d be hard-pressed to find another group so well qualified to take on nefarious forces.  In the face of evil, Deerhoof lacerates with thorny chords, stampedes with club-footed rhythms, then binds their foes in pink ribbons and gags them with a Tootsie Roll Pop.  With their most recent face off, the band culls the strengths of their past couple knockouts and cuts the fat.

In their old age (now going on seventeen years) Deerhoof has grown wise in the ways of oddity.  Capitalizing on the King Crimson-in-Candyland excess of 2007’s Friend Opportunity and the Keith Richards/Japanese game show mash-up of Offend Maggie, every song here weighs the former’s sample and synth bubbles with the latter’s blues skronk riffage.

The album begins with a brief fall through an angular rabbit hole, letting the beat scatter sideways before settling on a slow lope with a novel lyric treatment (novel at least to this millennium).  While Satomi Matsuzaki has long given the band it’s vocal identity with her chirping nursery rhyme mantras, the first track sees her staking out new lyrical territory: latin.  Frankly at this point in their career, it likely wouldn’t surprise their fans if they sang in tongues.  The song is at once an exorcism and an exercise: their stuttering rhythms constantly rein back to a throbbing pulse before the final moments cast out the chaos to a triumphant major cadence.

“Behold a Marvel in the Darkness” belies its bloated title with a bouncy acoustic guitar and a coquettish refrain of “what is this thing called love” that can only break to a deliriously fuzzed out bass.  With “I Did Crimes for You” the band makes highway robbery cuddly with Satomi bleeting “this is a stick up/smash the window” before the romantically uplifting chorus.  And the understated but gorgeous “No One Asked to Dance” obediently stays with its subdued Spanish guitar flourishes, even if it soon welcomes an electric harpsichord into its gypsy arms.

Propelled by a instrumental fist-pumping odd meter, “Let’s Dance the Jet” charges towards the LP’s standout track “Super Duper Rescue Heads!” Ringing in with dream-pop keyboard arpeggios, the song deftly illustrates Deerhoof’s maturity: they have learned to form all of their noise rock idiosyncrasies, their sing along nonsense, and their dirty syncopation to imaginative but grounded song forms.  The verse is simple, groovy, and catchy, the chorus is wordless but vocally transcendent, and the bridge sounds like a Casio factory burning down.

Deerhoof learned long ago to compartmentalize their schizophrenia into these thankfully sane song forms.  But now eleven albums in, they’ve come to adhere to the model within the constraints of the album as well.  The album’s flightiest and most dissonant track (“Hey I Can”) comes only after the blues strut rocker (“Secret Mobility”) has slinked up and seduced you.

While vs. Evil clocks in at their shortest running time since 2003’s Apple O’, Deerhoof manages to pack it all in and stitch it up with surgical efficiency.  With a pop sensibility so beguiling, you’d have to be well beyond the realm of evil to not be curious for a listen.  Last year saw the Flaming Lips leaving their seat as curators of psych-pop with their dark and cathartic Embryonic, but rest assured the joyously bizarre is still alive and fighting thanks to Deerhoof. The young year’s most expansive yet concise listening experience yet, Deerhoof vs. Evil is a bout well worth tuning in for and ultimately a victory worth celebrating.

Today’s mental excrement

•March 7, 2011 • Leave a Comment

I got tired of chasing my dreams, so I ambushed them and cut off their legs with a hacksaw. Now they’re easier to keep up with. Also, I can set the bar lower and my now shorter dreams can shuffle right under on their bloody stumps.

Check out my new band

•March 3, 2011 • Leave a Comment

The Bi-Polar Bears

A glam-emo band from Brooklyn, fronted by a transvestite with a penchant for biting the heads off baby seals at their shows.

 

The Day Hosnai Mubarak Finally Faced the Music

•March 3, 2011 • Leave a Comment

On February 11th, 2011, embattled Egyptian President Hosnai Mubarak wakes up earlier than usual. Riot rumbles and crashes rouse him from his slumber. After eighteen days of unrest, he’d sell the Pyramids for just twenty-four hours of peace and quiet so he might get some rest for himself.

He ponders why yesterday’s surprise announcement that he would keep his warm, guiding hand on the helm of his country did not allay the protesters. The howls of businessmen, the cries of street vendors, the secular screams, and the call to prayer for a relinquished post: all spiral and stir the morning air and converge upon the Presidents ears. Despondent and aloof as all ivory tower officials eventually become, Mubarak flips open his laptop, opens iTunes, and turns towards the one sound that could bring him solace: dance pop.

Robyn? No, he can’t bear to listen to the pop queen of a country so intractably communist at a time like this. Katy Perry? Too benign, her beats as uncatchy and sexless as her impotent attempts at a modeling career. Britney Spears? Mubarak sighs, longing for the days when he was the proud bridge between the Middle East and the Western World. Hit Me Baby, One More Time with a healthy relationship with both Israel and his Muslim brethren, he thinks. And so he defaults to the tried and true: Lady Gaga.

But what’s this? Her new single released today?!? With deft keystrokes that betray his arthritic digits, he downloads the song and slowly wheels up the volume on his bedroom hi-fi system. His knees start to shake. His earlobes waggle with anticipation as he slides shut the lock on his bedroom door. As dubiously loyal as his aides still remain, his private morning dance party is a ceremonious fealty to the beat. And yet, as Gaga charges into the chorus, only fear raps upon Mubarak’s eardrums.

He’s heard this chorus before. More than two decades ago, Madonna shook his chamber walls with this melody. And it wasn’t but ten years hence when the pop queen came public with her devotion to Kabbalah, a form of mystic Judaism. Prosperous as his reign has been, Mubarak’s stance on Muslim/Jewish relations has been one of delicate trepidation. If Gaga’s career continues to follow Madonna’s pop hooks like the Hebrews behind Moses, her spirituality would soon follow. Mubarak knows his music tastes would then betray his Middle East diplomacy.

Perhaps the masses were right. Change is necessary. He listens for one more minute, stony and still as the Sphinx, hoping the song might change or settle on a different hook, or at least find a contrasting bridge. Finally, he turns it off, trembling, now not out of anticipation, but out of fear. It was time to address his people one last time…

Attention All Airline Passengers

•November 6, 2010 • Leave a Comment

If you plan to fly and are traveling with a duffel bag full of printer cartridges, please show up to security 12 hours before scheduled departure.

Today’s Required Listening…

•October 31, 2010 • Leave a Comment

“HALLOWEEN IN HEAVEN” – TYPE O NEGATIVE    Dead Again

It was with far too little recognition from the metal world that Peter Steele, bassist, singer, and songwriter of America’s OG (that’s Original Goth to clarify for those sorry few who still believe in the rap-metal crossover abomination) Metal band unfortunately passed away this year. On April 14th of the year 2010, he died of heart failure. Some years ago on this same same day a cowardly reject of the American stage burst through the balcony of Ford’s Theater to assassinate a certain 16th president. Coincedence? I think not.

A precious 145 years after the thunderous Emancipation Proclamation, Peter Steele would release the song “Halloween in Heaven”  on Type O Negative’s final album. He allegedly wrote it for his good friend Dimebag Darrell, who met his demise at the hand of another cowardly assassin.

The song is a reveille for not only our beloved Dimebag, but for all deceased rock stars, among which this year, for the first time,  we count Peter Steele. Here’s to raising a Black Tooth Grin towards the sky in honor of the deceased, because we know they’re lowering one back down towards us today.

To Peter Steele’s first Halloween in Heaven…

Today’s Mental Excrement…

•October 26, 2010 • Leave a Comment

In the modern world, I motion that we remove any negative connotations from the phrase “high and dry.” In today’s modern world of melting polar ice caps and rising sea levels, I would much rather be high and dry than low and wet…