Music that’s ‘worth it’ this month
By Christopher Schutte
While the winter months are traditionally not flush with noteworthy new releases (or live shows), there are certainly more than a few worthy of your attention. As we are constantly assaulted with a never-ending stream of information, time has become the most precious of commodities. With that in mind I’ll do my best to filter out the dissonant noise and concentrate on diversions that are….
Worth Your Time
Gang of Four: Content [Yep Roc]
Name for me a band that released their first (seminal) recording 30 years ago and is still making vital, relevant music today? I’ll give you a sec … The correct answer would be: Gang of Four. Forget for a moment that post-punk would scarcely exist without Gang of Four and that literally hundreds of indie bands (from REM, to Sonic Youth, to Interpol) owe their very existence to the band. Content is a v aisceral, intense record crackling with Andy Gill’s signature, jagged riffs layered over muscular funk grooves, capped by Jon King’s biting sing/speak. While “return to form” may be construed as lazy critic-speak, it serves as the ultimate compliment to the band that dropped Entertainment some 30 years back.
Destroyer: Kaputt [Merge Records]
Head Destroyer, Dan Bejar (possibly best known for his work with New Pornographers) is a different cat. In the Kaputt press package, he references both “the pointlessness of writing songs today,” and “the hopelessness of the future of music.” It’s an interesting stance for a dude releasing – and one would guess hoping to promote – his ninth record. Stranger still is the fact that Kaputt has Bejar embracing his 1970s AM Gold side. His usual hyper-literate, jittery vibe has been replaced by languid saxophone fills, smooth synth washes and a heavy-eyed vocal style – all to good effect. Bejar references Roxy Music’s “Avalon” and Bryan Ferry’s “Boys and Girls” as touchstones for Kaputt. It’s a fair comparison and that’s saying something.
Smith Westerns: Dye it Blonde[Fat Possum]
It’s tempting to view Chicago’s Smith Westerns through the music blogosphere’s flavor of the day, best new whatever prism. Following last year’s release of their self-titled debut (recorded while they were still in high school), the band was instantly hailed as saviors of insert music genre here. Truth be told, Smith Westerns probably aren’t the saviors of anything, but they do have an enormous amount of potential. Some of that potential is realized on Dye It Blonde, which moves the band past its lo-fi garage aesthetic and early influences (Nuggets-era fuzz pop, T. Rex), to a more melodic terrain previously staked out by Teenage Fanclub. A recent review in the “New York Times” characterized Dye It Blonde as “unerringly pretty songs delivered in small packages, but still tattered at the edges.” Sounds about right to me.
Disappears: Guider [Kranky]
Following hard on the heels of their debut (Lux), which channeled both White Light-era Velvet Underground and the MC5, Disappears is back with a maelstrom of Krautrock-driven force on Guider. Disappears’ stock in trade is pile driving rock n’ roll of the riff-heavy, repetitive variety, and it’s readily apparent that these tracks have been honed to their final minimalist form in front of live audiences. While I suspect that the very same qualities that relegated a band like Can to cult status are at play with Disappears, that’s no reason not to drop the needle, turn up the volume and revel in the controlled chaos.
Minks: By The Hedge[Captured Tracks]
I should probably preface this review by acknowledging my undying love for the formative bands of my youth: Echo & The Bunnymen, The Cure, My Bloody Valentine, The Church. If those bands weren’t (aren’t) for you, I completely understand and will absolve you of blame if you choose to stop reading here. Should you choose to continue, then Brooklyn’s Minks may be for you. By The Hedge is, at its heart, a guitar-driven mood piece in eternal autumn mode. Far from transcendent – or even genre defining – Minks’ first outing feels like a trip back in time through my vinyl record collection. Even if your record collection didn’t (doesn’t) resemble mine, you should still make room for Minks on your iPod.
Worth The Drive
Friday, February 11, 7:00 PM
“http://www.ticketmaster.com/Lifestyle-Communities-Pavilion-tickets-Columbus/venue/41554”The Basement, Columbus, OH
Released from their major label (Geffen) shackles, Rooney is back on the road headlining their own tour (which beats the hell out of playing support for acts like Kelly Clarkson and the Jonas Brothers!). Fans from their “I’m Shakin’” days will still recognize Rooney’s BritPop meets the Cars sound, but may be surprised at the creative strides the band has taken on their recent release, Eureka. Columbus is as close as the band gets on their current tour, and you won’t get much closer to them than the very intimate performance space at The Basement. Opening acts: Eisley & The Chapin Sisters.
Reach DCP freelance writer Chris Schutte at email@example.com.