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I give you three very different sounds:
The Mountain Goats, “Damn These Vampires”
I’ve often been told that the Mountain Goats are an acquired taste. I suppose there is something eclectic in John Darnielle’s voice and in the subject matter of his songs—they can seem a bit strange. ”Damn These Vampires” does not stray from that oddness. This song is the opening track to their upcoming album All Eternals Deck. The beginning incites a level of nostalgia for a western themed past, arguing that, “someday we won’t remember this.” The song then turns to discuss the pesky vampires infiltrating this picture that Darnielle has created. Although vampires are often sung about throughout the song, they do not compare to those skulking around in the Twilight films. The vampires in this song appear to be more of a metaphor for the undying problem that grips our lives if we allow it to. However, Darnielle has hope for us and for our eventual recovery (and when the sun comes/try not to hate the light/someday we’ll try to walk up right). Listen and download it at stereogum.com
Peter Bjorn & John, “Breaker Breaker”
Mass hysteria! Well, not really. The song follows the normal pace and amount of enthusiasm present in their previous releases. It’s really the video that has them moving in fast-forward that evokes the hysteria. As their bodies move, their limbs mesh with the background, becoming the trails of color that can be found in photographs that have captured a moving subject. The hands of the drummer, John Eriksson, seem hardly attached to his body as he furiously bangs his sticks on his kit. Watch the video at stereogum.com and download the song at the band’s website for free. Check out other songs from the new album Gimme Some while you’re there.
Just in Case You Were as Clueless as I Was:
Sleigh Bells, Treats
Apparently the noise pop duo called Sleigh Bells released their debut album, Treats, this past year. Sleigh Bells consists of Alexis Krauss doing vocals and Derek E. Miller as guitarist and producer of the sounds they write together. They have played CMJ and Coachella, worked with M.I.A, and received a great deal of attention from Pitchfork media. Their reception and the amount of attention given to them makes my lack of unawareness of their existence feel like a tremendous oversight.
Their ways were introduced to me no earlier than last week when their latest video dropped for the song “Rill Rill.” The song is dedicated to the, “so this is it then?” look at the high school experience. The video contains clips of Krauss and Miller riding around in a car and is interspersed with still shots of lockers, mascots, popping balloons and other things that have high school written all over them. There is darkness in the video, which fits for a group that places faceless cheerleaders on the cover of their album. The lyrics seem indistinguishable in the swelling sounds Miller produces around Krauss’ semi-breathy drawl. The lines speak to the lack of authenticity and the insipidness of the high school experience (you’re all alone friend/pick up the phones then/ring ring call them up/tell them about the new trends). There is also a sense of humor in what Krauss is saying (wonder what your boyfriend thinks about your braces/what about them/I’m all about them/six straight As/cut em in the bathroom).
After I watch this video (let’s just say more than five times), I began to look into other songs from their album. They did not disappoint. The nod to the anti-quintessential high school life permeates, as does the noise. The ratio of noise to pop (lyrics not included) may be a bit too much for some in songs like “Kids,” “Run the Heart,” and “Tell ‘Em,” seeing as the beats certainly make “Rill Rill” seem like bubblegum. “Infinity Guitars” sounds like a remixed version of itself. The disjointed drum and tambourine playing around Krauss’s vocal improvisations seem too cacophonous at first listen. Watch the video to see a badass chick rocking a Catholic schoolgirl jumper, complete with hoops, shades, a letterman jacket, and a baseball bat. If you did not notice her intensity in the “Rill Rill” video, know now that she is a force to be reckoned with.
All in all, these tunes pervade your consciousness even when you have no idea what Krauss is talking about. Check the lyrics (or make up your own), grab a trashcan to bang, and turn the volume up.