SARAH PALIN helped me find cynicism again. Because of that impish winking governor who can see Russia from her front porch, I’m almost back to my time tested position of absolute apathy with regards to the results of this presidential election. Then I hear Joe Biden speak, or I watch children sing hymns to Obama and I remember that there are things that I dislike even more than bumbling governors.
That being said, I didn’t find an abundance of musical genius on the webs this week, I had two papers and a recitation that occupied my brain and sleep. There will eventually be a Ben Folds review, I swear, and so in apology for my laziness, here are a few lines from Whitman who occupied much of my week,
“O you whom I often and silently come where you are, that I may be with you As I walk by your side, or sit near, or remain in the same room with you, Little you know the subtle electric fire that for your sake is playing within me."
Oh yes…he did say “subtle electric fire.”
Have a good weekend.
Keane, “The Lovers Are Losing”
Keane is one of those bands that you want to love. With the sweet clear vocals of Tom Chaplin driving lush instrumentation, “Hopes and Fears” was one of those freshman releases that just makes you smile about wherever this band might be going. Unfortunately, “Under The Iron Sea” just got lost in a directionless fog of differing musical influences and lyrical concepts. It was the type of album that you listened to once, and then just moved on.
When I heard Spiraling, a cut from Keane’s 2008 upcoming “Perfect Symmetry,” I was a little worried that Keane would be so enamored with a new stylistic direction that they would forget to harness that style to their particular appealing blend of piano rock. Then I heard “The Lovers are Losing” and I couldn’t help but smiling. The song has the distortion, the effects, and the driving soaring rhythms making an incredible single. Chaplin’s voice sounds just as good as ever, and he’s actually dropping some lines that are quite beautiful, “we cling to love like a skidding car, clinched to the corner/ I try to hold on to what we are/The more I squeeze the quicker we all are,” in this heartfelt story of a man staring at the end of love. It’s still a better piano ballad than anything on “Viva La Vida.”
Download: The Lovers Are Losing
Cut Copy, “Lights and Music”
Deep down inside, everyone just wants to dance and Cut Copy makes the perfect music to get your hipster hips moving. The Aussie new wave inspired electro retro-rockers make the type of music that would fit just fine inside the soundtrack for a 1980’s fog-filled cinematic classic, but somehow the throbbing tones sound better pulsating from the speakers in a sweat stained club. The vocals and guitars mesh perfectly with the synth into an extremely addictive mix that even got Carson Daly’s crowd moving last night.
“Lights and Music” is the latest single from the band’s 2008 release, “In Ghosts Colors” and hooks the listener from the first guitar licks that break out of the distortion and into lead singer Dan Whitford’s echoing vocals. Dance music is in right now, but Cut Copy manages to stand out from the crowd with their ability to create memorable licks that don’t degenerate into repetitious pounding blandness (ala Justice). Back in May, these guys were the centerfold of a ridiculous after-party thrown by Filter Magazine in D.C. When I finally left at 2 a.m. the tables and room were still spinning heavy. Judging by their U.S. television debut and string of sold-out shows, Cut Copy is still heading the biggest dance party rolling through town.
Stream:Lights & Music
Nickelback, “Gotta be Somebody”
I blame Bob Lefsetz for this one.
When you take a whipping boy for all that’s wrong in mainstream music band and tell your devoted audience that their new single is worth a listen, that it has traces of Boston and the Beach boys in it—it’s guaranteed that curiosity will destroy the eardrums. I link to this song with a sort of sadistic delight coming from the fact that once you listen to this song, once you dismiss it as absolute generic drivel and garbage—you’re going to find yourself clicking on it again later.
Maybe it’ll come once everyone goes to bed, maybe you’ll lock the doors, try to soundproof your room, even turn off your Last.Fm account, you’ll do anything to keep people from finding out that you’re listening to Nickelback, but you have to listen to it once more. Objectively speaking, it’s not that great of a song, the verses and chorus come out with almost precise predictability and the lyrics could have been written by a sugar-sweet greeting card machine; but it’s just so catchy. This song is at number three on iTunes right now, and I promise you, it will hit number one. This is the song that’s going to be blasted from pickup trucks and prom mixes for the next year, so you might as well start listening to it now and trying to cultivate distaste for it. That way when it finally comes on, and you’re sitting in the middle of a crowd who’s probably enjoying only their fourteenth time through, “no one wants to be the last one there,” you can turn your head with a full hint of disdain and disgust and sneer at their simple minded musical appreciation.
It’s ok, I won’t tell anyone what you’re listening to when the neighbors go to bed.
Stream: Gotta Be Somebody
(p.s. the record industry is being retarded, because even though this was offered as a free single for 24 hours, it's now impossible to find online to download, so if you really want it, drop me a line, or just buy it on iTunes)
The New Pornographers, “Mutiny, I Promise You”
Knife throwing unicorns and pistol wielding bears all have their place in the video for the latest easy listening offering from the New Pornographers. Internet comedy legends Super Deluxe (Washington, Washington) host the strange musical journey and that’s honestly about the only original part of the song. There’s not much to say about this new song except that it’s classic NP fare, with bouncy instrumentation and multiple vocals, with A.C. Newman’s underappreciated voice leading the way.
“Here is the mutiny I promised you/Here is the party it turned into”
The Decemberists, “Valerie Plame”
On the subject of indie-music gods releasing enjoyable but predictable singles, Colbert-fighting wordsmiths The Decemberists dropped their ode to the outed CIA operative. While it may follow the money making formula for Decemberists musical magic, “historical” retelling/love song/horns/sing-along, there’s just a spark of originality that seems to be lacking from the piece. I’m sure it’ll be fun to hear live, I’m sure we’ll all sing along, “hey, hey, Valerie Plame” and everyone will feel quite proud of themselves for enjoying a song with such relevant social and political references—but right now as I sit in my far too messy room, and contemplate another Friday, I’m just a little bored.
Download: Valerie Plame
There were just a few videos that emerged from the abyss of the tubes to find their way to my eyes this week. Whether it was Regina and Ben Folds doing a much less plasticized version of “You Don’t Know Me” on Conan, Coldplay using one billion camera angles to prove that they really can put on a great live show, or The National stripping things down in Northern Ireland—there were some brilliant musical excuses to take a break from work for a few minutes this week.
Ben Folds (feat. Regina Spektor), "You Don't Know Me"
The National, "Slow Show"
Nathan Martin is Patrol's Washington, D.C. music editor.
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