Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Reviews - Girls / Taken By Trees / XX

Girls – Album – True Panther / Matador

Girls - "Hellhound Ratrace"

I feel like Girls “Hellhole Ratrace” is the waiting room soundtrack in the heaven reserved specifically for those drugged-out-of-their-gourd rock stars who OD’ed or burned out from excess. Swathed in cigarette smoke, gargled whisky, pill-popped blood-shot eyes staring aloof, ear drums punctured, neck cracked, fingers blistered, ankles and legs and shoulder wrecked – the rocker dies and he comes into the light – and these feedback-drenched surf swaying tones and lazy but steady hand-claps, these shuffling but coaxing lyrics, are what the scruffy, weary departed soul hears upon entry.

But it’s not like a rehab exit. And it’s not so tragic. It builds and builds, the bass gets louder, the chorus becomes relentless in its incantation, the guitars start to roar and it’s no knock against (“Big Bad Mean Motherfucker”) the shorter, faster, more punk-pulsed song that follows it on the album, but once I spun it through once I just clicked re-play and listened to it’s blissful, sad, dreamy 7 minute meandering all over again. “I don’t want to die without shaking up a leg or two, yeah, I wanna do some dancing too…” The acoustic guitars are breezy against the surfy reverb and those Beach Boys-blended-to-Costello-esque vocals. It’s the most euphoric bit of somber I’ve ever heard – not necessarily glorifying excess (though this San Francisco based duo have certainly seen their share), but it feels like a soul that’s been matured, whittled, worn, a soul that needs nothing else but to wander out onto the back porch of life, under the stars and have a wobbly-kneed slow-dance with whatever it is they love most in life. Eventually “Big Bad Mean…” progresses and you realize that track’s own beauty in its send up of slap-back Sun Studio style echo vocal pop/rock – a cruiser ballad for the post-post-punk-post-post-whatever-post-on-and-on-and-dig those shambly fuzzed out guitars.

Balancing BRMC’s crunchy guitar onslaught with BJM’s ear for 60’s druggy folk and pushed with the warm soothing production that knows how to balance their more feedback-fried J&MC moments with their soft-sunny endearing Pet Sounds moments.

Taken By Trees – East of Eden - Rough Trade

“Preferably quite far away…” Victoria Borgsman, singer/songwriter (formerly of Swedish indie-pop band The Concretes and known to satellite-radio-heads as the female voice to the duet of Peter Bjorn and John’s “Young Folks,” spoke of wanting to escape the tendency of a walled-up, sound-proofed studio to stifle creativity and a needed playfulness.

Born from her recent penchants for Asian music, specifically of India and Pakistan, the cherubically wispy vocalist finally settled into a recording space in the latter country, sought out numerous local Sufi musicians and sang over the minimalist guitar strums of compatriot Andreas Söderström and producer Dan Lissvik (picture a lab top amongst traditional dafs, bendirs, shenais and harmoniums) while Borgsman wafts out her sublime tones, transfixing, almost vaporous, and settling in nicely into another country’s traditional folk style – be it recorded inside our out. Most importantly, it brings sanctity, freshness and rejuvenation to this, her second record under this moniker (primarily as a solo-singer/songwriter).

Highlights include the airy flutes and chiming acoustic cascades of (guaranteed autumn-jam) “Greyest Love of All,” and a collaboration with Animal Collective’s Panda Bear on “My Boys,” a cover of said band’s big 09 hit only with genders reversed in title – and given an even more buoyant and playful vibe (if lacking the synthesized bass boom).

The xx – the xx – Young Turks / XL

So hushed and minimalist, it feels like some deliciously haphazard dinner you threw together for yourself at the late ending to a long day that ended up being so fulfilling that you wish you’d written the recipe down but you knew it wouldn’t take much to make again – some beats, a few spaced-out guitar licks, unobtrusively hummed and whispered melodic voices so cooed there like the sweet nothings your special something wafts into your ear while your holding each other on some pillowy unmade bed in the lamplit loft of your star-roofed urban milieu.

Gauntly structured pop songs that keep a rocking swaying beat riding under plodding bass booms and surfy guitars that are so perfectly spaced out; some of these nocturnal ballads are so spread, they’re like gaps between mousy firework fizzles or iris-wrapped lattice, or scattered tea grounds against shiny porcelain. It’s pretty pop, but it’s delivered in the bedroom recording style – recalling minimalists like Young Marble Giants or a more trip/hop-dub/step pushed Yo La Tengo (subtract the latters psyche-noise-freakouts and drench it with way stronger penchant for R&B vocal styling).

1 comment:

Justin said...

Great reviews. I enjoyed the Concretes so I'll definitely check out Taken By Trees.