Music

Thank You: Golden Worry

Though there has yet to be a single musician or band that can act as a succinct exemplar of Baltimore's sound, Thank You's latest album, Golden Worry, may come closest to summarizing the vibe, spirit, and sonic sensations that have made Baltimore's underground community what it is today.


Thank You

Golden Worry

Label: Thrill Jockey
US Release Date: 2011-01-25
UK Release Date: TBD
Amazon
iTunes

When Baltimore became home to the alternative music scene to talk about, the eclectic collective of musical talent posed a bit of a problem to journalists. Namely, how to describe the scene and sound. All the underground and independent musical movements in America's recent past had a mess of bands that shared sonic sensibilities. There was Seattle's grunge scene, Chicago's industrial sound -- every sub-genre of hip-hop from juke to bounce had a distinct hometown flavor. Even closer to Baltimore, a quick drive south on I-95 brings one to D.C.: despite the sea changes and evolutions in D.C.'s punk scene, folks could still pinpoint a "D.C. sound", no matter the year or decade.

And then Baltimore had to go and mess all that up. Dan Deacon, the Baltimore scene's iconic ringleader, creates jarring, complex electronic music that sounds nothing like the minimalist, guttural tones of post-punkers Double Dagger. The sensual ambiance of Beach House's folky tunes doesn't really mesh well with hip-hop noiseniks Food For Animals. Ditto for the cutesy, stark anti-folk of Santa Dads and the spastic, schizophrenic tunes by the Death Set. Wzt Hearts and Future Islands? Kind of different. Same with Teeth Mountain and Ponytail. Same with Ecstatic Sunshine and Lexie Mountain Boys.

The diverse array of sounds has defined Baltimore as the kind of open-to-all-possibilities sanctuary that the musical community there no doubt cherishes. Though there has yet to be a single musician or band that can act as a succinct exemplar of Baltimore's sound, Thank You's latest album, Golden Worry, may come closest to summarizing the vibe, spirit and sonic sensations that have made Baltimore's underground community what it is today.

The trio's third full-length sees the band expanding their sound beyond the high-octane post-punk affair that caused folks to compare Thank You to the equally cathartic art-punk act Ponytail. Yes, their frenetic, guitar-happy sound is alive and well. That sound just happens to be treated like clay on Golden Worry: it's mashed and smashed, molded and folded with a new set of tools, thrown into the kiln for a good bit of warmth, and then covered in an array of exquisite colors.

The band's brought in a mess of tools for shaping the album, which the album's press release is happy to advertise: the guys use a harmonica, Fender Twin Reverb amps, a jaw harp, a mini-Moog, '60s Vox organs, and a sampler. Shiny new tools don't always improve a sound, but fortunately Thank You's Jeffrey McGrath, Michael Bouyoucas and Emmanuel Nicolaidis know their way around a good song.

The result is an unfortunately all-too short album that deftly and smartly balances frenzied punk, aural ambience and a little bit of pop friendliness. Tunes like "Birth Reunion" show that the band can handle light, airy sounds with grace, only to transform it with a wave of kinetic, jagged post-punk for a thrilling listen. On Golden Worry, Thank You borrowed sonic ideas from other beloved Baltimore acts, ran with it, and produced an album that's a great representation of the band and its city.

Sure, it may not sound like a strict amalgamation of all of Baltimore's finest. But, who would want that? Such an overt concept would be nothing but messy and dysfunctional. Fortunately, the six songs on Golden Worry are only messy when they need to be.

6

Cover down, pray through: Bob Dylan's underrated, misunderstood "gospel years" are meticulously examined in this welcome new installment of his Bootleg series.

"How long can I listen to the lies of prejudice?
How long can I stay drunk on fear out in the wilderness?"
-- Bob Dylan, "When He Returns," 1979

Bob Dylan's career has been full of unpredictable left turns that have left fans confused, enthralled, enraged – sometimes all at once. At the 1965 Newport Folk Festival – accompanied by a pickup band featuring Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper – he performed his first electric set, upsetting his folk base. His 1970 album Self Portrait is full of jazzy crooning and head-scratching covers. In 1978, his self-directed, four-hour film Renaldo and Clara was released, combining concert footage with surreal, often tedious dramatic scenes. Dylan seemed to thrive on testing the patience of his fans.

Keep reading... Show less
9
TV

Inane Political Discourse, or, Alan Partridge's Parody Politics

Publicity photo of Steve Coogan courtesy of Sky Consumer Comms

That the political class now finds itself relegated to accidental Alan Partridge territory along the with rest of the twits and twats that comprise English popular culture is meaningful, to say the least.

"I evolve, I don't…revolve."
-- Alan Partridge

Alan Partridge began as a gleeful media parody in the early '90s but thanks to Brexit he has evolved into a political one. In print and online, the hopelessly awkward radio DJ from Norwich, England, is used as an emblem for incompetent leadership and code word for inane political discourse.

Keep reading... Show less

The show is called Crazy Ex-Girlfriend largely because it spends time dismantling the structure that finds it easier to write women off as "crazy" than to offer them help or understanding.

In the latest episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, the CW networks' highly acclaimed musical drama, the shows protagonist, Rebecca Bunch (Rachel Bloom), is at an all time low. Within the course of five episodes she has been left at the altar, cruelly lashed out at her friends, abandoned a promising new relationship, walked out of her job, had her murky mental health history exposed, slept with her ex boyfriend's ill father, and been forced to retreat to her notoriously prickly mother's (Tovah Feldshuh) uncaring guardianship. It's to the show's credit that none of this feels remotely ridiculous or emotionally manipulative.

Keep reading... Show less
9

To be a migrant worker in America is to relearn the basic skills of living. Imagine doing that in your 60s and 70s, when you thought you'd be retired.


Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century

Publisher: W. W. Norton
Author: Jessica Bruder
Publication date: 2017-09
Amazon

There's been much hand-wringing over the state of the American economy in recent years. After the 2008 financial crisis upended middle-class families, we now live with regular media reports of recovery and growth -- as well as rising inequality and decreased social mobility. We ponder what kind of future we're creating for our children, while generally failing to consider who has already fallen between the gaps.

Keep reading... Show less
7

Gallagher's work often suffers unfairly beside famous husband's Raymond Carver. The Man from Kinvara should permanently remedy this.

Many years ago—it had to be 1989—my sister and I attended a poetry reading given by Tess Gallagher at California State University, Northridge's Little Playhouse. We were students, new to California and poetry. My sister had a paperback copy of Raymond Carver's Cathedral, which we'd both read with youthful admiration. We knew vaguely that he'd died, but didn't really understand the full force of his fame or talent until we unwittingly went to see his widow read.

Keep reading... Show less
8
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image