While the R. Kelly/Jay-Z collaboration failed miserably, the vinyl-only “Moth/Wolf Cub” single showed that bizarre genre crossovers could work. Four Tet was one of the primary founders of folktronica and Burial was one of the names that made dubstep the household name it now is. Locked in a room together, their sounds combined in a breathtaking fashion. Burial’s patient beats roll on smoothly under Four Tet’s ethereal cut-up loops. “Moth” is significantly subdued and minimal, but the B-side “Wolf Cub” is where the partnership really cooks, beginning with a distinctly Four Tet-sounding, diced hand piano and evolving to include Burial’s stuttering beat and moody atmosphere. It would be nice to hear more come out of this.
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From its title to its punchline, this song is clever, a coming-of-age-in-a-library tale with bodies pressed against the spines of books. Not just clever, though. The puns barely cover the tangible feeling of excitement turning to disappointment (a.k.a. growing up). Musically, it captures both the rush of feeling loved and its come-down. It’s a firecracker with an air of sadness: the perfect metaphor for the way hot new bands like the Pains of Being Pure at Heart are treated as superstars one day, then yesterday’s news. They seem to be powering right through that cycle, however, on the strength of songs like this.
It’s always a bit of a bummer when one of the most solar-plexus-punchingly great records of the year comes out in November or December. Some people haven’t heard it yet, and others are wary of confusing novelty with quality, so it doesn’t make the “Best of” lists as much as it should.
Well, I’m here to tell you, Them Crooked Vultures really is one of the greatest albums of 2009, and the first single, “New Fang”, is the song Natalie Portman should’ve made Zach Braff listen to in Garden State, not the Shins’ anemic “New Slang”. It might not change your life, but it’ll sock you in the gut, in the very best way possible.
The Von Bondies shot their wad in 2008 by releasing a four-song EP with the most stellar tracks off the 2009 album Love, Hate, and Then There’s You. Frontman Jason Stollsteimer has gone through bassists and guitarists like flu season Kleenex over the past decade, and apparently decided to embrace that by not listing any band members at all in the new disc’s liner notes.
But when he continues to make rock perfection like “Pale Bride”, no matter what you (or Jack White) think about Stollsteimer, all is forgiven.
If you were to propose a song by the Latin contortionist sensation Shakira produced by one of the guys from The Apples in Stereo (John Hill) and another guy from The Bravery (Sam Endicott), it would unequivocally sound like a disaster on paper. Yet, what we have is the closest vie yet for the long tail of the DFA on the pop charts. This is not to suggest pop validation by indie credibility, but rather just the opposite. Rubbery bass, ricocheting fricka-fricka guitars, and seductive vocoder (not, mind you, auto-tune) have never sounded so deliriously insatiable as they do in a format palatable for both hidebound radio and libertine clubland. Utterly ace.