Monday, May 11, 2009

Rage Roundup @ 8 May '09

Something a little different, this time - for brevity & ease, I'm cutting the Roundup's pretty face down to a Three Most singles of the week.
Go for it.

Family Galaxy — Tim Exile
Now this is fun! Electronic, synth-based songwriting that's not afraid to just be nuts. It might sound like the pursuit of unpredictability as an end in itself, but I think it always serves the song. (And the lyrics talk a lot about "always changing" and "never stay the same", so it makes sense to hear the musical form mirror this.) Maybe it reminds me of Devo: as weird as it gets, there's an underlying aesthetic of tuneful-pop that's never totally eclipsed. And they borrow another Devo gesture by spinning a nifty trick of disrhythmia, not once but at least thrice – it's kind of spectacular.

The computer graphics are fairly  primitive, but the video works well enough anyhow. It's always pleasant to feel like you're moving at speed. I guess there's nothing going on here that's absolutely brilliant, but it's neat and nice all over.

I came to Phoenix a little late; I still haven't gotten around to hearing their 2006 album, but I love their first two records. So I'm looking forward to this new album of theirs, but I'm kind of unsure about it too. The sound that made their first couple of albums so great is a fragile kind of thing; it's a balance of production and arrangement that's very easy to screw up. Without the right kind of songwriting to back it up, you end up with the worst kind of '70s-FM-pop-via-French-electro instead of the best. It's tricky...

Luckily this is a real neat tune, I think. Great title, for one thing. It's got a lot of momentum under a light touch, and there are a couple of nifty suspension bridges across the middle. (An interesting structure all over.) Vaguely wistful and melancholic, but it's upbeat even so. Reasons for optimism, I hope?

This one has actually been out for a few weeks, but it took me a couple of weeks to warm up to it. The video was immediately appealing, though: it's built around a clever visual effect which looks like the visuals are printed on to crinkled paper, layers of which are then ripped and torn like a sort of stop-motion effect. But on top of this basic format, the singer's head is covered by its own animation of wrapped paper, and then there are flashes of colour, and then there's even more than this besides... it's really excellent stuff. Overall it's the kind of spectacular that you'd probably want to call "a visual tour de force" if you weren't worried about clich├ęs, but you know what? I reckon it is a bloody visual tour de force, so there. I liked it.

The music is a sort of indie electronica – it feels like it shares a zeitgeistish commonality with Animal Collective's recent stuff.  (And you can tell it's coming out of indie rather than pop because the vocals are high-pitched, male and slightly distorted.) It's also a lot more inventive, songwriting- & arrangement-wise, than you'd expect from something that started in a club. The melody feels strong enough to carry any sort of instrumentation, and that's what really lets it kick. The more I listen to this, the more I like it: excellent.

Bonus (!) video, for the sake of Interest: check out Shoes — Tiga.
What's that sound? It's the sound of my shoes. I'm still not sure if it's really any good, but the video certainly holds my attention. But you know, maybe that means that I do like it? It's some fine fun either way, right?

Deadpan. It's very, very deadpan. (Also, apparently, Canadian.)

So, anyhow: no rocking out this week? No decent electric guitars, anywhere? Synths ahoy at every turn? What is this, freaking 1999? What the hells is wrong with music these days?

Ah, well... but things could be worse, I guess. Right? Things are not bad. Yes?
Okay then. Okay. Let's just stay cool.

--the Musical Thoapsl

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