Update: I've decided to revisit this post because I felt like I didn't give it enough attention to begin with, kinda like selling your best friend a Billy Ripken Fleer card for $75 when he doesn't know it's actually supposed to say "fuck face" on the bat. I posted links to all these bands "MySpace" sites, so if the songs I review aren't actually there (and most are), you can at least get a taste for the band itself... and who doesn't like tasting bands? Onward.
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah - “The Skin of My Yellow Country Teeth”
If you haven’t heard about these guys, you had better put on your fleet feet and sprint to catch up to the fucking wagon. If you were a big fan of The Talking Heads, well, you’d better do the same. This band is going to fucking explode, probably the biggest underground buzz I’ve seen since Interpol, and they’re MUCH peppier; I even threw away all my razor blades. If this song doesn’t get your head nodding and your foot tapping, you’re probably just plain deaf. A dead-on driving drum beat, simple and clean rhythm guitar work, and insidious whining vocals bring this song together into a fantastic orgy of positivity. If you needed any further proof, the NBC show “The Office” featured a party scene in which this song was in the background.
Letter Never Sent Exclusive BONUS: a review of a Clap Your Hands show! Fuckin' A!
Dreamend - "Slide Song" and “The Old House & Its Occupants”
This misty, grave-faced band from Chicago blew me away when I first heard "Slide Song" and “the Old House & Its Occupants.” I felt like I had just walked into a ghost jazz club and when the songs ended all the ghosts would hold me down and suck out my soul. Fortunately, this treat doesn’t stop with these songs. The above tracks only serves as a vocal break between tremendous movements of violently contrasting drum work that slaps and hammers your wandering imagination to follow the plunky lead guitar as it spirals its way down into the deep echoing guitarwork. The album, “…as if by ghosts,” easily wins one of my Best of 2005 awards for being a terribly intense concept album. You might be tempted to classify it in the “post-[rock]” category, but I think the band members would hang me and offer my soul to Satan if I did that. Dark Side of the Moon is nuts and gum compared to this.Emperor X - “Garbage Shaft Floor-by-floor”
Smart-rock combined with punk; there’s nothing like it that you’ve ever heard. The gritty garage sound of this track combined with the incredible (yet odd) lyrical flow and off-beat drumming create one of the most rocking underground songs I’ve heard in my life. If you need to win a broomball championship game at 2am, or a kickball flipcup competition, this is the song you listen to beforehand.
Giant Drag - “This Isn’t It”
Did someone say Barracuda? No, this isn’t Joan Jett, but this chick rocks just as hard and just beat up Ms. Jett in the parking lot. Don’t be fooled by the simple guitar work or harmonious lyrics (she is a woman after all), these lyrics sink deep and tell a bitter tale of love gone horribly wrong. She is not gonna take any shit, and she wrote a cool song to tell the world about it, so listen to it or else you’re next.
Irving - “I Can’t Fall In Love”
Irving. Who? Never heard of ‘em. Damn right. Here’s a one-hit wonder waiting to happen, but regardless, this song is catchy as all hell. It truly reminds me of a mid-90’s I can’t put my finger on, but somehow sounds like a tribute to that song which I can’t think of. You won’t be disappointed.Jesu - “We All Faulter”
So much cheer thus far, let’s make room for some brood metal. What’s brood metal? It’s long-winded, self-indulgent, muted guitarwork dripping with distortion and doomsday vocals. From the mind behind “Godflesh,” Jesu (I suppose Jesus is redundant since Jesu already has an “s”) tears into your soul and eats it instantaneously. Then it vomits a new one for you and makes you eat it. You’re meek, you’re small, you’re hopeless, you should’ve died when you were born. Welcome to Jesu and the horrific introspection that he inspires. Make sure you cue a ramp-up song after this one, or grab the razor blades you threw away after ditching your Interpol albums a few days ago.
It’s often subliminally understood within indie rock pretentia that electronic and sample rock/dance went out about 5 years ago when Moby hit it big, and again when Fatboy Slim paid Christopher Walken to dance to a track off of “Halfway Between the Gutter and the Stars.” Well, this “band” (actually a single person) is about to show you that there’s plenty of dark energy left in the flagging electronic scene. Throughout Books On Tape’s individual tracks, you’ll be passed from sinister synth rhythms to hollow beats until you finally reach the precipice from where you’re dropped headfirst onto rock-hard bass. It’s as if the Beastie Boys teamed up with the Crystal Method to beat the shit out of Fatboy Slim, and everyone took a shitload of whipits and red bull in the fray. Enjoy.
British Sea Power - “Carrion”
If you can’t make it past BSP’s seemingly homoerotic opener “Men Together Today,” you’re going to miss several gems, including the standout track “Carrion.” I mean holy shit does this band know how to cut through the muck surrounding catchy indie rock. The New Pornographers could take a lyrical (not to mention a wardrobe) lesson from this crew of Londoners. Not nearly as forced as a Decemberists whaler’s chanty, BSP manages to create a simple, catchy melody backed by throaty and peculiar vocals that really gives you the sensation of being shipwrecked on a beach in the 17th century…with a rock band. “Carrion” only makes you want to listen to the rest of the oddly naval album. Check out tracks “Favours in the Beetroot Fields” and the Gregory Maguire’s Oz-inspired “Something Wicked” as a follow up.
The Magnetic Fields - “I Wish I Had An Evil Twin”
Somewhere between a Weird Al song and the Crash Test Dummies, The MagFields fantasize about everything their conscience wouldn’t allow in “I Wish I had An Evil Twin.” One of the most “curious” bands around, and who performs entirely drum-free shows (which are rudely interrupted by high-fives sometimes…), decided to toe the folk rock line with their album “i.” On “i,” every song begins with an…”i.” Wee! Either way, this song is pretty cool, and it’ll get a few smiles in social situations that could eventually lead to gay sex. This brings me to another point. Folk is coming back, no matter how you classify it. Decemberists, MagFields,…. All folk. You’ll see. Like MTV News, you heard it here. First.
Mixel Pixel - “At The Arcade”
Ever wish you grew up in Bikini Valley, CA? Well, now you can revisit that bizarre fantasy I just had. Mixel Pixel writes a whiny, irreverent homage to teenage life in the Valley with “At the Arcade,” and one to just how random and superficial it is, but viewed from within a 15-year old arcade fan’s mind, tinting the whole sordid affair so that it’s not only forgivable, but humorous, and more intelligible than this run-on sentence.
Okkervil River - “Black”
Counting Crows meet The Wallflowers. This Jersey (seriously) band hits the bullseye with this track, not to mention the album. There hasn’t been an acoustically patient band this talented and focused since, well, ever? This track in particular unfurls a blood-boiling tale of abuse and jealously which will easily resonate with any male. If you don’t check out this free tune, you’ve done yourself a serious disservice.Rogue Wave - "Endless Shovel"
You are a fool if you can’t dig this song. Psych-pop rock genius Zack Rogue (who legally changed his last name to “Rogue”) lays down unbelievably tuney (a new word!) rhythms and harmonies in this lyrically indecipherable track. The entire album culminates to this eventual release of psychokinetic refrain, and it still somehow leaves you wanting to hear it over and over again. No amount of description can do it justice. Another crystal example of a passionate song becoming unwound and ending as if you swore you wrote it in the first place.
Say Hi To Your Mom - “22nd Century”
See ya Weezer. This solo New York musician who lives with his mom (still) enjoys writing fuzzy guitar rhythms while singing warm vocals about robots, spaceships, and teenage romance promises over them. There’s nothing you won’t miss about everything else on your ipod while you’re listening to SHTYM. The ignorant youthful expectations and promises just make you want to build your own time machine and travel back to 5th grade (to invest in Google…sigh). Fuck yeah, it’s about time.
[you can find the song on the band's website, too]
Other Posts by The Monitors
Kid You'll Move Mountains
Songs That Filled Me With Abject Rage
Well, that was a mindfuck: A story of a viewing of the film "Donnie Darko"
Dewey in repose
I Want to Own an Aviary - by Count Langenhoffen