Monday, July 11, 2005

Listen! Listen...!!!:Just Deux It. Part 2

Just in case anyone forgot, this week's theme deals with the excellent music which is created by some of the most grossly overlooked duos. On with the show...

Death From Above 1979: You're A Woman, I'm A Machine

It's pretty common these days to run across the standard variety twosome in music. There's the guitar and drums model, the ever popular two acoustic guitarists setup(the Simon and Garfunkel), and sometimes the odd piano/keyboard and drummer combination(your Quasi's and Dresden Dolls and what have you). Sebastien Grainger and Jesse F. Keeler bring another flavor to the table. Electric bass and drums. A subtle difference, but intriguing.

This is where anything resembling subtlety takes one look at these two, wets itself, and then runs like hell out the side door.

From the air raid screams of the Moog synthesizer that open the first track "Turn It Out", we brace for an all out assault on the senses. Grainger's overdriven bass sounds more like an army of riffing madmen exploding from the trenches than one man with an effect pedal, and Keeler's loose shuffling drums slide seamlessly through the gladiatorial wall of bass. Things only get hotter from there as the bulk of these tunes incorporate Grainger's sultry, bluesy wail shooting skyward and divebombing in perfect synchronicity with the alien sounding synths in a series of screaming, soulful sine waves. It is a difficult task for many bands as heavy as this to be able to be anything more than, well, heavy.

In the case of DFA1979, the thick distorted chords don't mask the infectious groove which is prominently displayed in each of the songs. Just witness the sweet underlying Gang of Four-esque cowbell in the slow building tear "Black History Month" and the background bongo bounce and crisp handclaps of "Sexy Results" that somehow manage to bring to mind the 80's chestnut "Electric Avenue" and at the same time more recent groove-punk favorites The Rapture(related to a completely different Death From Above, but that's a whole story in and of itself). It's as though one has walked into some twisted futuristic disco where half of the patrons were never informed that punk was dead.

Part robotic, part sexy, and all attitude, You're A Woman, I'm A Machine is smoldering makeout music for sweaty, hot pants cyborgs, and quite possibly one of the most original albums I've heard in the last year and without a doubt, one of my favorites.

Key Tracks: Romantic Rights, Blood On Our Hands, Black History Month, Sexy Results


Damfino said...

Kern - you are dropping references that leave my sack shriveled in embarrassement. In fact, the cover alone makes me ashamed that I have no idea who these artists are!

Your write up as usual is superb - hope you have a far more engaging spot to post things like this. Not that our faithful readers aren't edu-ma-cated... just that there is only like 5 of us!

Question - when did the album come out? Recent stuff?

Kern said...

Jed: Thanks for the compliment. This particular album came out late last October, so it's relatively new. I had heard about them for a little while, and it wasn't until a few weeks ago that I actually purchased it. I think part of the reason I've not reviewed much new stuff in part is my reduced spending on CD's this year. I am afraid I don't have any other places to send these reviews. I don't know that they're "hip" enough for some of the sites that review music. Plus, I like doing reviews here because I know they are doing some good, as evidenced by an awesome comment Urnotme made last week. Were you able to skim any of last week's reviews? I think the one for Explosions in The Sky was one of my favorites thus far.

Out of curiosity, which references were the nut shrinkers?

Damfino said...

"your Quasi's and Dresden Dolls and what have you" sent my boys running for the taint.

Kern said...

Yeah, if I had the album I might talk about Dresden Dolls, because they'd fit well this week.

Essentially they are a male/female duo who sound like a dark themed punk cabaret act. She plays piano(rather hard from what I have heard of them) and he plays drums.

Quasi was the band I reviewed yesterday. I might add, that Quasi is great in concert, and that when I was in the bar at the Crocodile Cafe where I saw them, I was standing mere feet and inches from the still sexy drummer Janet Weiss.

Mmmm...Janet Weiss...

urnotme said...

I made a good comment?

There's gotta be a mistake!

urnotme said...

Kern- This band sounds awesome! I love the cover art and their name! I can't listen to it now, but will tonight and am looking forward to it. I still need to listen to yesterday's as well.
And again nice writing!


mr. tomas ubik said...

you should check out the rest of the bands one the arts canada label.

broken social scene
the dears

and dfa

they all just came back from a japanese tour trying to re-invent the image of Canadian music, given that as of now it lies with celine dionne, bryan adams, avril lavigne, and sum 41....ack

youll notice the other arts canada labelled albums by their cardboard jackets

Kern said...

Eano: Good call. I own the Dears record, but for some reason it didn't do as much for me as I'd hoped. I have been meaning to buy that Stars album for a while now, however. How did you happen across the Damfinoblog?