Saturday, October 3, 2009
Deerhunter “Microcastle” (2007):
Bradford Cox makes repetition the most fun thing in music. You hear his mastery in “Never Stops”, a trance-like number that oozes his specific skill. Ditto “Agoraphobia”. The title track though varies its pace to the point of total fragility and tenderness before ripping it to sheds. Things sag a little bit in the middle but then comes the stomper, “Nothing ever Happened”, to rescue it. Cox has been perfecting his electro-funk approach to ambient for some time now but Microcastle is his apex. The album turns for the better (and weirder) after that. “Saved by Old Times” features an arcane vocal that warbles genially. “Neither of Us, Uncertainly” is a symphony of luscious sounds that is perhaps the strongest here but within such a medley of excellence that is always a mere excess of luxury
Badly Drawn Boy – The Hour Of The Bewilderbeast (2000):
the 2000 Mercury Prize winner saw Badly Drawn Boy aka Damon Gough unfurl a sonic wonder slowly that reverberates to this day. Maybe that’s the reason why he hasn’t been able to scale such heights again but by the time the jazzy Once around the Block springs itself, all Elliott Smith comparisons are off. Whereas Smith was more wrought in emotional evocations, Gough is the production junkie that had been license to simply create. Magic in the Air shifts tenses with base piano and unearths fresh results. Cause a Rockslide cocoons itself into a rollicking groove and his falsetto. The last half is strongest because it seems he grew in confidence of following the own intuitiveness of his heart. That’s all real indie geniuses need to shine.
The Shins “Chutes Too Narrow” (2003):
once The Shins made the switch from keyboards to guitars they unleashed this glorious wall of sound on an unsuspecting public. There is a indie swagger here that tips a track like So Says I into the authoritative mode that resounds throughout. Lead singer, James Mercer is a man in control of not only himself but his musical output. You hear it juxtaposed with a symphonic sampling of Saint Simon, where guitars are used to paint a position of vulnerability. Fighting in a Sack then reverses the trend with a sing-along chorus and sheer aggression. Musically, even if a track like Turn a Square doesn’t spin much lyrically, the pummeled beats are a great treat. Ditto the tight harmonies that wrap Kissing the Lipless and Mine’s not a High Horse.
Brian Wilson “Smile” (2004):
I don’t think anyone can truly appreciate this album fully without first hearing its successor, Animal Collective’s sprawling Merriweather Post Pavillion. To think, Wilson had this material assembled all these years and only this decade would it bear fruit and flourish. It’s quite a glorious mess too but the main difference with this work to all that has happened musically since, is the formative spills that technology has learned to clean up before the finished product becomes available. Kudos for Wilson though because for all its flaws, “Smile” remains an admirable touch from a man who has had many admirable musical touches. On a Holiday trips into the 60’s vibe that commenced the lengthy gestation period of the album. The acoustics of Wind Chimes utterly lifts it from being just a mere experiment. It is the album’s last quarter (the ending six tracks) where the stunning vision that Wilson was continuing after “Pet Sounds” becomes most obvious. In Blue Hawaii is a delightful pop romp that expertly uses the subtle chorale effect that modern lo-fi bands still are trying to perfect. Of course it ends with an exquisite version of “Good Vibrations”, which is spooky yet irrefutable fun.