Wednesday, January 23, 2008

This Moment Indie Rock

I realize that I've been writing too much about jock straps and the politic lately and need to get back to some good old (indie) rock 'n' roll.

I received two new Matador releases in the mail yesterday. One was Columbus, OH heroes Times New Viking with their lo-fi coming out party. The second was Cat Power's latest collection of covers. I liked my review format from December so much that I've adapted it for these two new releases.

Times New Viking - Rip It Off
Two Hundred Forty-Three Words: The title of Times New Viking’s Matador debut, Rip It Off, implies that they have ripped off their sound from somewhere. That somewhere is indie rock lore. The band’s lo-fi aesthetic summons the ghosts of Guided By Voices (pre-Ocasek) and early Pavement. To complete the Matador holy trilogy, the band takes on Yo La Tengo in the aptly titled “Times New Viking vs. Yo La Tengo”. The naivet√© of the riot grrrl movement and anything touched from Calvin Johnson to Daniel Johnston are present in the constant, back-and-forth, riotous boy/girl hollers throughout the record.

I used to hope that the band’s Matador signing would expose the band to better sound equipment, but as I listened to the hiss of tape and static due to too much treble, I realized it would just sound as crappy as Lou Barlow did once he stepped out of the bedroom had TNV discovered a real recording studio. The band’s sound is too harsh for lo-fi disciples and too poppy for those of the hardcore set, but it’s place somewhere in between makes it stand out in an era of sleek, iMac-recorded MP3’s.

I know this band is difficult for some, but isn’t that what makes it important? Don’t the best bands insight hatred from some listeners while their fans love them? Isn’t that what punk is all about? Times New Viking is the most punk thing to hit the music world in a long, long time.

The one song that makes it worth $17.95: "Drop-Out"

Pitchfork Says: 8.4

Cat Power - Jukebox
Two Hundred Twenty-Three Words: Chan Marshall (aka Cat Power) has released her second collection of covers to commemorate her rebirth…I guess. Anyway, after reading the Pitchfork review, I expected the record to suck. It actually doesn’t. I just think the music is far beyond the scope of the typical Pitchforker. Usually the blogging hipsters of the Windy City demonstrate a decent amount of music knowledge and historical perspective, but they missed the boat on this one.

The disc opens with “New York, New York” (yeah, the one by Sinatra) in a form that makes the cheesy standard sound downright soulful. From there, Marshall takes the listener through her various musical influences from jazz to country to soul with a little folk mixed in for good measure. The best song is “Song to Bobby”, a tribute to Bob Dylan. The song sounds like that Bob Dylan song he didn’t write.

Speaking of Dylan, the album almost makes a case for Cat Power as being the anti-Dylan. I’m not knocking her songwriting ability. What I mean is that Dylan songs always sound better when sung by someone else. Maybe Chan Marshall sounds better singing other’s songs. Maybe.

My only real complaint is that the record did not include the Cat Power covers featured on cell phone and diamond ads. But I guess you can’t have everything your way.

The one song that makes it worth $17.95: "Song to Bobby"

Pitchfork Says: 5.7

In other indie news...

I am attending some shows in the near future. There's Band of Horses in St. Louis on the 31st. I'm still waiting for Billy to get back to me on whether he wants my extra ticket, but if he doesn't want it...

Then, the other band that sounds like Band of Horses but was doing it a long time before that and will eternally have a place in my heart despite a detour through jam-band-Reggae-purgatory, aka Built to Spill, is coming in mid-March.

Lastly, I'm really excited to announce that we will be traveling to the cornhusker state to see the late, great Daniel Johnston. Of course, I owe R big-time for this one since it's on her birthday, but we're going anyway.

That's all from my corner of the indie universe. Hopefully something else will come up soon. (Stephen Malkmus?)


T.J. said...

Hey there...if Billy doesn't want that extra Band of Horses ticket, give ole T.J. a call. He would love to join you.

Juliet said...

Times New Viking is definitely an acquired taste, but one I'm happy to have acquired.