Wednesday, May 2

Quick Hits - Cold War Kids, Silversun Pickups, The Fratellis, Panda Bear


Artist: Cold War Kids
Album: Robbers and Thieves

Comments: Earlier in the year, this band got the entire blogosphere’s gears a-turnin’ with rumors of their bananas live performances. Since then, they’ve come to town twice. Based on the opinions of people I trust, the rumors about these guys ruling a stage are true. Plus, I saw them on a late night show, and they were rocking the house (which is very rare for those late night shows; the performances are often stale as hell). And to the band’s credit, this really carries over into the music. They are playing the hell out of their songs, loving every second for it, and what Robbers and Thieves lacks in tightness it makes up for in exuberance.

Still, a good live performance does not an album make, and most of this album is flat, recycled indie pop rock. The single “Hang Me Out to Dry” and album opener “We Used to Vacation” are both good, but the album can’t hold up. Songwriting is hit or miss; there are a lot of good one liners here and there, but no standout songs besides the two mentioned in the last sentence. Same goes for the music itself. It’s a start, and I feel like this band could really be something in time. But for right now, they’re nothing to get excited about. Unless they’re coming to your town.

Rating: 5.5 out of 10

Artist: Silversun Pickups
Album: Caravans

Comments: Another band that, like the Cold War Kids, built up their reputation on live performances and underground buzz. Though they had less internet frenzy upon their release of Caravans, Silversun Pickups are similar to CWK in that their record is good, but not great.

Their sound harkens back to the early days of the Smashing Pumpkins, but with less angst and more melody. The lead singer even sounds like ol’ Billy C. at times. First listen does not yield too many rewards, but repeats highlight things like the professionalism of the band, and the power in the lead singer’s voice (the guy sounds like a woman, but goddamn can he belt that shit out if he wants). Songwriting is alright, and I think it is only going to get better with time. Songs like “Lazy Eye”, “Melatonin”, and “Well Thought Out Twinkies”, with their grunge thump and solid lyrics suggest that maybe, just maybe, this band could be the next big thing.

But not yet.

Rating: 5.5 out of 10

Artist: The Fratellis
Album: Costello Music

Comments: Are you sick of euro pop yet? I’m sick of euro pop. This mini-invasion from bands like Bloc Party, Franz Ferdinand, and the 10,000 other bands that can be described by comparing them to the first two has more than outstayed its welcome. Still, it’s time to make some room on the bandwagon, because the Fratellis refuse to be denied.

Sure, this record is tight. And sure, it sounds like all the other brit-pop that is flooding the radio right now. But there is something different about these lads. Maybe it’s that they borrow more from The Sex Pistols than they do Wire or Joy Division. Maybe it’s the sing songy chorus to lead single and Ipod commercial jingle “Fathead”, or the 90s sunshine guitar in “The Gutterati?”, but something about these young snots is damn exciting. The Costello Music on this record is fun, fast, brash, and a fun listen. Throw this on and have a drink with some friends. Then let’s crash this bandwagon into the barging bin.

Rating: 6.5 out of 10
Artist: Panda Bear
Album: Person Pitch

Comments: I had no intention of listening to Person Pitch. I don’t listen to Animal Collective (Panda Bear is the drummer’s side project), and I’m not really all about psychedelic music. Plus, Pitchfork loved it and nothing against Pitchfork, but I don’t want their tastes to be my tastes; they like some awful shit in those Chicago offices. No, Panda Bear and I never should have crossed paths. Imagine my surprise when I not only listened to Person Pitch, but liked it.

Person Pitch is a psychedelic trip of sincerity and confidence, and Panda Bear is able to lead us through his foggy swap of ethereal, ambient nonsense with a tender hand. The entire album is about making music for the sake of making it, with nothing else in mind. There is no motive behind this album, other than love of creation, but the subject and the act of. “Comfy in Nautica” eases the listener in with it’s repetitious chorus “try to remember always / just to have a good time”, and it’s chorus of angels urging us to “Try!” The titanic “Bros” starts out at Beach Boy style trip-pop before melting into an explosion of sampling and relaxed urgency that would make the Arcade Fire jealous. The only misstep on the 7 song album is the stumbling thump of “Good Girl / Carrots”.

Somewhere, Brian Wilson is listening to this record with a smile on his face. Panda Bear is able to take the torch of the cracked genius and carry his memory on into a new millennium on the strength of sincerity and joy. Great sampling. Great songwriting. Great anthems. Great album.

Rating: 8 out of 10


Paul Tsikitas said...

The Fratellis only good output is the bitchin' version of Solid Gold Easy Action originally by T. Rex at the end of Hot Fuzz. Otherwise, yes, they are old hat. Altho the video they have for one song has some hot broads in it.

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