Music

Germans: Cape Fear

Kelly Stanton

Germans gain indie cred by way of a multi-faceted album and some '90s nostalgia.


Germans

Cape Fear

Label: The Arena Rock Recording Company
US Release Date: 2007-03-20
UK Release Date: Available as import
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iTunes

By now I guess everyone knows that there is obviously some sort of indie protoplasm in Canada’s water supply. But Broken Social Scene they are not: after all, a band of Canadians calling themselves “Germans” can only sound like… a bearded and sweatband-sporting pop version of Sonic Youth? Amazon may tell you that customers who bought this album also purchased Neon Bible, but if they’re into what Germans are offering, then I suspect that consumers of Cape Fear may be more interested in owning a copy of a happier, sloppier album -- something like In a Priest Driven Ambulance or other such '90s nostalgia.

Germans seem to have discarded the idea of belonging to any one rock genre, or to have purposely set out to write a song that corresponds to each band they admire, but it’s a buoyant listen nonetheless, and the band draws easily -- but not unconsciously -- from a substantial list of rock variations. Swinging easily between sweet but disjointed harmonies and frenzied rocking, Germans top off their musical notes with vocals that vary in a similar manner, from folk-y monotone baritones to that contemporary industry standard emo thing. Certainly no one can accuse them of producing a monotonous album. Less than specific lyrics at times make it somewhat difficult to identify with whatever it is they’re talking about, but the mixed emotions behind the music are always tangible.

The album opening and doggedly misspelled “Tiger Vaccum Bottle” is the sort of song that sounds distinctly -- as opposed to vaguely -- familiar, though you can be sure you’ve never heard it before. The song itself is getting “something to get somewhere” and decidedly optimistic, and if it doesn’t achieve complete individualism-cum-originality, it is at least striving for that something, a characteristic indicative of much of the following songs on the album. “Tiger Vaccum Bottle” is a good example of the band’s ability to bridge gaps and to suck you in. The lyrics are halting, the guitars sweet and conspiring, and the percussion has a tendency to drop right in your lap, or on your head.

A cover of Bodenständig 2000’s upbeat, arcade-esque “Pogos Abenteuer” is aptly followed by “M Bison”: a cascade of la-la-la’s and the flat declaration, “I’m past my prime, but not in my mind.” A distant stone’s throw from their emo-ish tribute to MySpace-listed influence Cap’n Jazz, “So It’s Out!”, “M Bison” rolls out more videogame tunes coupled with the deep strait-line vocals that first appear on the album with this song.

“I am the Teacher” is Germans at their best: some halting vocals, a smoothly catching chorus, and an upward motion of instruments could easily drive the track onto Indie dance floors across the nation. The intentional fuzz on the track -- on most of the tracks, actually -- contributes to something of a DIY aesthetic, (even if, you know, their record label might’ve done it for them) as well as to that whole '90s theme.

I suppose the band’s seeming uncertainty of their own sound will make it possible to sell more albums: hey, there’s something for everyone! But Germans, with their motley musical influences on their sleeves, could easily plan on going in even more diverse musical directions in the future, as they seem to adapt easily to whatever music is their flavor of the week. Musicians that are difficult to classify usually produce the more interesting ideas, and Germans fall in line here -- but instead of cultivating their own sound, they slip in and out of an assortment of musical costumes.

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