Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Tuesday's 2

The guy that reviewed this album for Pitchfork pretty much panned it and gave it an arbitrary 5.9. Personally, Pitchfork has turned for the worst. Although this is a different topic entirely here is my mini-soapbox rant: I remember when Pitchfork was just starting out. A friend would always rave about finding new music through them about 5 years ago. Since this time, they have gotten so much smoke blown up their asses that their writers feel obligated to write about anything and everything unrelated to the music they’re supposedly reviewing. Welcome to highbrow writing in its most esoteric form. They’re constantly trying to prove how smart they are and 98% of the time forget to say what the band sounds like. I used to blindly follow their ratings and buy albums site unheard, until they slowly began getting a lot wrong. You may ask, “how can an opinion be wrong about something aesthetic?” but as far as I’m concerned their ratings now deserve a 0.439, anyway...

What Made Milwaukee Famous aren't from Milwaukee or Wisconsin nor are they famous...yet. In fact, they're a byproduct of the burgeoning indie music scene in Austin, Texas. The band is comprised of Jeremy Bruch (drums), John Farmer (bass), Michael Kingcaid (vocals/guitar), and Drew Patrizi (keyboards). They came together a scant 3 years ago in 2003 and quickly shot onto the Indie-dar with a performance next to Franz Ferdinand at Austin City Limits while still be an unsigned act (unprecedented). They also performed at SXSW (South by Southwest) as home-town favs.

This album, Trying to Never Catch Up, is actually a remastered re-release of their 2004 debut. There are four additional tracks and the same cover art in blue instead of red. The album begins with an electronic drum beat and taser-like keyboard glissando up and back down which continues through most of the song. WMMF definitely have a unique sound. They are equally at home with this hodgepodge of rock with minor electronic elements or singer-songwriter rock of "The Jeopardy of Contentment." The standout tracks are: the aforementioned “Jeopardy,” “Hellodrama,” and the title track.

I enjoyed this album from WMMF. I heard them perform live on Morning Becomes Eclectic and had a great vibe over the live airwaves. For a new band they're still finding the sound that fits them best, but they have a lot of great options. §

The Decemberists have been making their brand of indie rock since 2002 fronted by Colin Meloy (and his creative writing degree), backed by Ezra Holbrook (drums), Nate Query (upright bass), Jenny Conlee (accordion), and Chris Funk (pedal steel guitar). The band is often compared to the incomparable Neutral Milk Hotel if not only for their sound but poetic lyrics. The albums prior to this major label debut were Castaways and Cutouts, Her Majesty, and Picaresque which were all released on the Kill Rock Stars label. The Crane Wife is with their new people at Capitol Records. Luckily for us listeners they didn't sacrifice themselves on the Altar of Shame before the feet of a major label. Meaning, Capitol let them make the album they wanted to without telling them how to go about doing it.

According to AMG (All Music Guide) "The Crane Wife is loosely based on a Japanese folk tale that concerns a crane, an arrow, a beautiful woman, and a whole lot of clandestine weaving." If this ins't intriguing and make you talk to yourself outloud then you need to get out of your musical coma. Just because this sounds like thinking-man's music doesn't mean it's inaccessible. On the contrary, The Decemberists bring you into their world with melodic folk-tinged pop. Examples of their poppier side are the opener The Crane Wife, Pt. 3, or Yankee Bayonet (I Will Be Home Then). Whereas fans of more ambitious tunes that show musicians at their most daring and dynamic will love the extended songs The Island, Come And See, The Landlord's Daughter, You'll Not Feel The Drowning (12:26), and The Crane Wife, Pts. 1 & 2 (11:19). Overall, The Decemberists score another success while turning to the Indie Dark Side of signing with a major label. Some bands can make it work and while other have their sound put through finishing school (losing their edge). This album shows The Decemberists are going to keep doing what they've been doing for 4 albums now.

1 comment:

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