MP3: Senor Kaos – “20 Years High & Rising (Homage To De La Soul) Feat. Von Pea & Homeboy Sandman (Produced By Dave West)”Posted: October 28, 2009
The title says it all. Senor Kaos likes to pay homage while those he’s paying homage to are still alive. Not a bad concept. Listen to it here, off his new Walk Softly & Carry A Big Brick album, which you can download here.
Despite, or perhaps because of, his indie rock pedigree, Imaad Wasif is something of a classic rock purist. From 2006-2007, he toured with the Yeah Yeah Yeahs as an auxiliary guitar player, and he cut his teeth in the LA band alaska! and Palm Desert-based lowercase. The Voidist, however, his third solo album and first for Tee Pee, is everything these past and current projects aren’t.
It seems that Wasif’s heart lies in the big, traditional rock riffs and the folksy plucking of bands like Led Zeppelin and their ilk, as opposed to the dancey post-punk or lo-fi experimentation he has flirted with in other projects. An element of mysticism pervades his music, as it did on his last solo album, Strange Hexes, from the dreamy “Our Skulls” to the Olde English folksong meanderings of “Widow Wing.” These moments are nice, and showcase a confident singer/songwriter working in a medium and style that suits him well, but the traditionalism that he clings to isn’t always very exciting or inspiring. Songs like the pop-rock “Priestess,” that chug along at a brisk pace and are actually more conventional in some ways, fare better.
Over all, while one can’t argue with the conception and arrangement of Wasif’s work, there is nothing that stands out here. Perhaps that is not what he was going for. Perhaps his goal was simply to a make a no-frills rock and roll record with deft guitar playing and sweet singing that is removed from any trends or fads. In that, he has succeeded.
The subtleties between Bradford Cox’s two main musical outlets, Atlas Sound and Deerhunter, can be, well, subtle at times. In general, though, the former has been the testing ground for Cox’s experimental solo work, while the latter has consisted of his more rock-oriented (but still experimental) full band arrangements.
On the new Atlas Sound album, Logos, these lines are sometimes crossed and blurred. “Sheila,” for example, a droning but somehow poppy dirge, would feel right at home on the last Deerhunter record, as Cox intones, over and over, “We’ll die alone, together…” Over all, the new album has a more organic, cohesive, ensemble tone and construction than the previous Atlas Sound album, Let The Blind Lead Those Who Can See But Cannot Feel. Songs like the eight-minute long “Quick Canal,” featuring Stereolab’s Laetitia Sadier on vocals, though, hearken back to that first record, as a whispering programmed drum track skips along under synthesizer waves and thumping bass. The same can be said for the ambient electronics of “Kid Klimax.”
But from the album’s acoustic/IDM opener, “The Light That Failed,” to the ‘60s pop-referencing collaboration with Animal Collective’s Noah Lennox, “Walkabout,” Logos is clearly an ambitious evolution in sound. Whether trading riffs with his fellow band members in Deerhunter or digging into the recesses of his mind with Atlas Sound, Bradford Cox continues to make fascinating and beautiful music.
Can’t get enough MJ, especially now that he’s dead and gone (or so he would have you believe…)? Then check out this preview of some unreleased Jackson 5 songs, from the new album, I Want You Back! Unreleased Masters, out November 10.
The conspiracy deepens:
Is this the real Mae Shi or the splinter cell that called themselves The Mae Shi? Hm….
Built to Spill’s recent appearance at New York City’s Webster Hall, the first of four consecutive nights across two boroughs, could hardly be called a promotional appearance for their new album. The band only played a few songs off There is No Enemy, instead dipping deep into their catalogue (with the exception of Perfect From Now On) to unearth some classic indie rock gems.
Doug Martsch and company look more like a bunch of dads playing rock and roll now than ever before, but the effect is comforting, not disconcerting. Martsch tends to jerk with a Joe Cocker palsy when he’s belting out a tune, but his movements do nothing to upset his gentle, high-pitched singing voice. The band was tight, all three guitars negotiating their way through a mess of effects pedals, as they turned simple songs into extended jams.
Beginning with “In Your Mind,” a spare, pounding tune with subdued six-string theatrics, the band reinvigorated a bunch of older songs. “When Not Being Stupid is Not Enough,” “Car,” “In The Morning,” even “Joy Ride” were energetic crowd-pleasers of the night, undoubtedly reminding many in the audience of their high school and college years. And for Martsch, nostalgia seemed to be refreshing rather than tedious, as he truly appeared to be having fun dusting off these aged songs. There were moments when the band seemed to be reaching a breaking point, ripping out simultaneous guitar solos for several minutes at a time, but Martsch always reined it in before it became musical masturbation.
The band ended its set with “Carry the Zero,” one of Martsch’s best songs of this decade, before coming back for a three-song encore. It’s kind of amazing to think that Built to Spill remains comfortably on a major label, given the band’s reliance on more traditional, gimmick-free indie rock, and its inability to obtain a Modest Mouse-sized audience. Who knows, maybe it’s not as comfortable as it seems. Maybe Martsch is destined to pull a Sonic Youth and jump ship (or be forced over) to a larger indie imprint. Ultimately, all that matters is that Built to Spill keeps creating the no-frills but still exciting rock and roll that they have thus far, and that they continue to deliver stellar performances like this one.
Honestly, it’s not that cool. But you know how you DOOM fanatics gobble this shit up…