Sunday, June 21, 2009

Rage Roundup!

Okay go! Unauthorised thanks, as always, to the delightful music-video televisual broadcasts of Rage.

Departure — Crystal Stilts

Remember how for a while there, it seemed that every new group out there was a wolf? Wolfmother, Wolf & Cub, Wolf Parade, Patrick Wolf...
There's a new meme in the namehouse now, I think. Crystal Castles, Crystal Antlers, and now Crystal Stilts. Is it surprising that these Crystals are edgier, harsher and certainly way cooler than the Wolves? Wordwise, is "crystal" more punk than "wolf"? Maybe so, I guess...

Anyhow, these Crystals are as much fun as any of the others. The music is all very "I wish I was Ian Curtis, I wish I could live in 1978 forever" but for what it's doing, it's certainly convincing. And although it's derivative, it's derivative in a very specific (and elsewhere underexploited) fashion. The rhythm section produces a genuinely excellent and powerful momentum throughout. In fact, the music sounds – vocals aside – as if the entire band are trying to be the rhythm section. (That's not an insult. Musically, I think that what they're doing here really works.) Meanwhile, the video is made out of some interesting Spirit-of-'68 file footage, visually intriguing and nicely edited (albeit ideologically ambiguous, if you like).

A couple of other Crystals turned out to be well worth a bit of effort. Here's hoping that these Stilts have more than one trick up their sleeve. (Although, if they only have one trick, at least they're doing it well enough, huh?)

This is an interesting one. Do you think it's being kind of insensitive and flippant, domestic-violence-wise? Or is it just a fierce metaphor, evocative and poetically appropriate? The video itself is a visual showcase for the singer's superhuman legs (among other physicalities), her diction produces a passionate rhythm throughout... – so, sex and violence. Hm. If I watch it a few more times, will I come up with an answer?

I don't know. It's a good song otherwise, and you can't deny that it's punchy as hell, no matter what. A lot of the chord progression is a kind of rip, but not annoyingly so. Do we like it? Let's say we like it.

Hey, it's that synth sound from Kid A! I'm glad someone decided to pick that up. Don't worry, though, this is definitely not a Radiohead rip-off. If anything, it reminds me vaguely of Catcall (or maybe even Pikelet) in that it's an interesting electronic-based meld of (let's say) most of the non-mainstream genres of late-90s-mid-00s, swirled together? (The sound of the million daughters of Björk?) Electro, indiepop, alternative hip-hop... you could pick out a number of different elements in play here, but they're assembled in a package that sounds surprisingly original. And at the very least, this is certainly also a good song, good enough so that I don't care if some of the packaging may have been used previously. (The vocal sound is lovely, too.)

Another thing I like about this single is the video, which puts a nice new spin on the old animated-live-action-via-rotating-track-camera-stop-motion effect. (I can't think of the proper name for what I'm sort of talking about, but take a look at the video and you'll see what I mean.) It's a simple enough trick but it works well, and it's a very good visual metaphor to match the circular chord progression and the driving rhythm. Keep an eye out.

(Also, let me say for a PS: I think that "Watusii" is an excellent song title. There's at least two clever jokes hidden in that double-i.)

Hey, look at that! A Rage Roundup post finished and up on a Sunday! I may be down to only three and a half songs per fortnight, but I'm maintaining reasonable haste. For a Bonus (!) I'd like now to direct you to Postcard Guy by Lauren Horton. This looks like it's probably one of those no-budget homebrew releases, broadcast once at 4am and never heard from again, but I'll be very disappointed if that's all it ever is. It's a truly neat tune, charming as heck, and wrapped in some really eccentric production – not complicated, but never boring. Great stuff.

Okay. It's almost time for next week. We'll talk then.
--the Musical Thoapsl

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