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When first listening to “Tiger Tank,” it’s hard not to hear the influence of ‘90s indie rock (Pavement, Unwound) and punk on the music. Yet what makes Speedy Ortiz compelling is their use of that sound as an influence, not a template. Vocalist-guitarist Sadie Dupuis’ smart, smirking lyrics and the whole band’s tight-yet-fun playing style sound clearly current, if disinterested in the zeitgeist.
Some bands just don’t have one “sound”. While leader (and sole constant member) Kevin Barnes’ distinctive voice is a fixture, over the band’s 17-year run their records have rolled up twee pop, glam rock, psychedelia, electronic music, and most recently funk and Afrobeat into the katamari that is their discography.
On “Save the Last Dance for Me”, Harry Nilsson sounds like he’s in bad shape, and he is. The highlight of an 18-month long binge drinking session with producer John Lennon, the album that boasts “Save the Last Dance”, 1974’s Pussy Cats, is rough, gorgeous, both orderly and a serious mess. Yet, somehow, it works. “Save the Last Dance for Me” is a perfect example, as we can actually hear Nilsson’s tequila-laced phlegm, accompanied by Lennon’s sensitive and bizarre string arrangement, and cannot help but be taken in by the sheer honesty and exquisite weirdness of the thing. Nilsson destroyed his vocal cords while recording Pussy Cats, and his confidence as a vocalist would never recover. All of this makes “Save the Last Dance” a bittersweet listening experience for the Harry Nilsson fan. Few other singers could make falling apart sound so beautiful.
The guitar line proves the immediate guide, like a Real Estate song that grew up and out of its parents basement, or maybe a Wavves song that never got all the way to the beach, “Irene” tumbles forward with a laissez-faire inevitability. This group of 19-year-olds craft a sort of washed out punk: short songs that hit again and again with an intensity that never borders on the intentional.
// Sound Affects
"On the elusive yet clearly existential sadness that adds layers and textures to music.READ the article