Strange Waves

Strange WavesStrange Waves

Sounds from Fixers, Marty Graveyard, Benjamin Herman and Hot Chip

By Benjamin Smith

Forsooth, an awful funk permeates our city, radiating the attitudinal stench of some decaying river-beast. Dayton lies stagnant in the summer doldrums. You can spy it in our scowls, perceive it in our pissant Facebook posts: ennui, apathy, listlessness. Methinks we need a little mindless fun, a little stimulation. They might not completely stem the torpid tide, but these four records from foreign shores will provide at least momentary distraction. Consider them imported fireworks, all weird color and brief sparkle.

 

Album: We’ll Be The Moon

Artist: Fixers

Label: Vertigo

Release Date: May 2012

Country: United Kingdom

Website: www.fixerstheband.com

Perfect Gift For: That One U.D. Girl. (You Know Which One.)

I would love to accost this Oxford band and say: “Fixers? Really? That’s what you’re going with? Fixers. Really. Good luck with that, lads.” Alas, the scruffy-looking geniuses would probably tell me to piss off. Marketing suicide aside, their debut We’ll Be The Moon is a miniature universe of synthesizers and dance beats. Although points of reference include The Killers’ Hot Fuss, Fixers at first appear more concerned with creating shimmery, dreamy atmospheres than hit singles. (My ten-year-old son thinks they “sound Japanese,” whatever that means.) Additional listens reveal real strong hooks: “Floating Up,” “Pink Light,” and “Crystals” stick in the subconscious, whereas “Alexandra” should be a top 10 hit. By the time you reach “Uriel,” you realize that—had Chris Martin stretched himself as a vocalist and stopped taking his career so seriously—Fixers is the ensemble Coldplay could have become in 2005. Depending on your stance towards Martin & Co., this insight will make you cry in shame or shake your head at a lost opportunity.

 

Album: Summer Holiday

Artist: Marty Graveyard

Label: V2 Records

Release Date: June 2012

Country: The Netherlands

Website: www.martygraveyard.com

Lyric That Sums It Up: “Hey, hey, do you wanna go with me away? To the beach, we got to have a holiday.”

Marty Graveyard, the former singer/drummer for some band called The Madd, recently released a solo collection of what his website dubs “feelgood guitar pop” influenced by “the Californian pop sound.” In case you’re a meathead and still don’t understand, this is pop music—jangly chords, catchy choruses and obvious imprints (the Beatles, the Beach Boys). Graveyard’s songwriting may make Noel Gallagher look like a composer of unrivaled originality, but the Dutchman’s banality isn’t the end of the world. What is catastrophic at times is his voice: I had no idea Graveyard was a prepubescent girl. Furthermore, the lyrics are all Hallmark and Paul McCartney, and “My Heart Is Set On You” brings to mind the “Friends” theme song. Unforgivable. Luckily, other tunes such as “Rigid Man” and “Call Of The Ocean” cancel out the crap. Bad news: Summer Holiday is 100% plagiaristic. Good news: Summer Holiday is 100% carefree. Pour a Heineken and take the day off.

 

Album: Deal

Artist: Benjamin Herman

Label: Dox Records

Release Date: June 2012

Country: The Netherlands

Website: www.benjaminherman.nl

Best Enjoyed While Reading: From Russia, With Love

It’s high time to resurrect “swanky” in Dayton. Dig Benjamin Herman: cat plays sax, composes cool jazz and was crowned 2008’s “Best dressed Dutchman” by Esquire. New release, Deal, finds our hero backed by the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra and spiky guitar licks, all of which gives this enterprise a retro “Iron Curtain” mojo. (Can one be nostalgic for KBG sex kittens? Yes.)  Even the songs titles convey a sense of international intrigue: “Give Me A Figure,” “A Man With A Plan,” “Room 1618,” “Her Boyfriends Are Usually Quite Different.” Gentlemen! Deal is horribly outdated seduction music of the highest caliber. Learn how to mix a wicked martini or Old Fashioned, invite that special someone over, dim the lights and press play. Follow these directions accurately and you have a 30 percent chance of carnal conquest. Worse comes to worst, you can shuffle like a drunken Peter Sellers to bonus track “Cat.” Not a shabby way of killing an evening, actually.

 

Album: In Our Heads

Artist: Hot Chip

Label: Domino

Release Date: June 2012

Country: United Kingdom

Website: http://hotchip.co.uk

Possible Soundtrack To: Big Dorkus Dance Party

London’s Hot Chip have now released five consecutive albums of questionable R&B elevated by New Order nonsense. Like their previous efforts, In Our Heads reiterates that “cool” is either an alien concept or a four-letter word to this seven piece—witness the Whitney Houston/Jabba the Hutt collage of “Don’t Deny Your Heart,” or the Bill Gates/Justin Timberlake take on “Night And Day.” The approach remains refreshing and impressive. Creating absurd art that emotionally moves the beholder is hard, and thus Hot Chip deserve to be showered with champagne and confetti. None of this is to say that In Our Heads is entirely silly. Opener “Motion Sickness” is a clarion call of confidence, “These Chains” betrays a bittersweet sexiness and “Flutes” could be a club sensation waiting in the wings, polishing its pocket protector before entering the limelight. DJs searching for a novel knockout should exploit the Chip. Everyone else should make merry and marvel at a band hitting its stride.

Reach DCP freelance writer Benjamin Smith at BenjaminSmith@DaytonCityPaper.com

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