Saturday, March 1, 2008

Rage Roundup, 29 Feb '8

Some nice stuff, this week... let's see...

I guess these guys must have a new album out; this is the second new clip of theirs I've seen in the past month or so. It sounds like a nice move forward from their earlier stuff: the production seems to be relying less on heavy guitar sounds, and more on clever arrangements and inventive percussion. The songwriting is a lot catchier than it used to be, too. It's got a bit of that late-00s-postpunk-revival feel to it, but less icy. It feels instead almost like a late-90s dance-rock thing, to me – and it's assembled almost as if it wants to be hiphop.
Also, an interesting video: an 80s-like video quality to some of the visual effects, mashed together with some very current stuff. Nice mix of zombie-robot choreography, Warhol colours and faux-regimental drumming; it fits the music really well, weirdly enough.

These guys emerged out a few years ago, releasing a few singles that were nice but not outstanding; their biggest problem (I thought) was that they looked as if they were cynically attempting to cash in on the New Rock revival, but doing it half-arsedly and several years too late. Then they vanished for a little bit and returned with a reworked sound that made it look as if they had given up on that, and were now cynically attempting to cash in on the early-80s revival instead. I think it's probably a bit unfair to assume the worst of them, though. Their recent singles have shown them developing a more unique sound – like this one, which manages to be clearly influenced by the 80s-revival feel floating around at the moment without being a slave to it. In fact, it honestly doesn't sound quite like anything else that's out there right now; it almost sounds like late-80s indie, or something.
Apart from that, it's also a quite sharp and well-arranged pop production. It seems like every time I hear a Cops song I find myself thinking "gee, this song is put together really well". So... am I damning them with faint praise, then? I can admire the construction, sure, but why don't I feel anything deeper? I think there's still something about the Cops which doesn't quite click for me, something I'm not getting from the song itself. I guess the lyrics don't help (eg: "respectagon"? wt?). Maybe I'll feel it next time.

Not as blatantly awesome as their previous single, Wild Strawberries, but good enough that I'm now extremely interested in what the new album's like as a whole. And I usually hate, like, 90% of anything that sounds anything like electronic dance music, so that's a heck of an endorsement, right? Or possibly the opposite. Anyway, I liked it. If you're looking for an objective viewpoint, stop reading reviews, okay.

I actually saw this last week already, but man it's a great tune. The guitar sound is unmistakably aping the whole late-00s-postpunk-revival thing (gosh that needs a decent shorthand label... no wonder reviewers just say "angular" all the time), but the small interlocking parts are more interesting than the usual riffs; it's closer to the sort of thing which Battles does, except without the expansive jazzy craziness. Nice stuff.

Where And When – Hayden
Great, great video: a single, unmoving video camera (that's us) watching two pretty but non-plastic girls sitting on a bed in cheap strapless dresses and dancing about like total nerds. It's totally sweet. Only right near the end do we get another camera angle: from the side, we see the girls are being serenaded by two bandmembers standing just in front of the bed. It's simple, but it's a great vehicle for a subtle song which might otherwise seem dull. Lovely.

Aw, come on guys. Stop making fun of the lunatic fringe of Japanese pop culture, already. For goodness' sake, they cancelled Iron Chef in Japan years ago. It's really unfair – how would you like it if everyone always associated America with Paris Hilton, Britney Spears and Fox News?

Man, that's a great band name. But the music just sounds like more of that same old empty emo metal, to me. Dang it.

This is interesting stuff – a lot more dynamic than the usual anonymous indie. Sonic Youthy vocals are raw and a little off-key without being annoying, and there's an interesting arrangement that's lush without being a dirge (as lush indie/alt songs are unfortunately wont to be, I think). The video is a mockup 60s-70s exploitation slasher film trailer, so the occasional screams over the soundtrack may not be part of the actual song... but either way, these guys are now something I'll be looking out for.

Aw, I'm tired and in pain; that's enough for today. Shorter than the last Rage Roundup? Either way I think I need to figure out how to do that "cut" thing and hide most of a post behind a link...

–the Musical Thoapsl

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