Saturday, April 08, 2006

Desperate Youth, Blood Thirsty Babes

I'm not one to fall for music trends.

Okay, that's totally and completely incorrect. I fall for trends, but I fall for them either way before or way after everybody else does...I'm too stubborn to get involved when everybody else does. Hell, I just bought OK Computer about a year ago...I had to wait until everybody shut up about it (and I immediately regretted not buying it the first time I heard anybody rave about it...I cost myself 7 years where I could have been listening to it). My wife says that makes me a music snob. I say she's wrong, but I don't have any data to back that up*.

In any case, I refused to latch onto Brooklyn group TV on the Radio when Spin and Rolling Stone and everybody else did last year...I've just been burned too many times by listening to Spin rave about the next big thing or Rolling Stone about the latest wonderful album. (I'm sorry, RS, but Mick Jagger's last solo album was worth 2 stars at best, not 5. Five is reserved for Blood on the Tracks or Born to Run, not a solo album by a 60-year old that has two good songs on it. Bitter? Maybe. Eventually I'll shut up about this.) What I DID do, however, was get online and listen to samples of their 2004 album, Desperate Youth, Blood Thirsty Babes, everytime I heard their name mentioned. And of course, slowly but surely, it grew on me until I finally bought it last weekend.

From now on, I'll just follow Music Rule #143: "If ?uestlove recommends it, buy it immediately, no questions asked." I'm not going to say this is an amazing work that I'll still be listening to 30 years from now (on whatever format exists at that time), but it got my own creative juices flowing, and that's the best compliment I can give any music. Some albums strike me as amazing immediately (Marquee Moon, Highway 61 Revisited, Aquemini), and some grow on me steadily until I just can't contain myself (A Ghost Is Born, Before These Crowded Streets, Power In Numbers). This falls into the latter category (I've listened to it about 9 times this week so far, and it keeps getting better...though it hasn't reached pantheon status yet), but it also contains the added bonus of sounding like nothing I've ever heard before. It combines deep fuzz bass, extremely spare guitar, random doo-wap harmonies (including the phenomenal a cappella "Ambulance"), and strong, strong lyrics...and the overbearing DIY vibe adds to the charm as well. It sounds spare and downbeat, almost like good background music, only it dominates your entire attention and sets a very specific mood. In that regard, I would say they're something resembling the R&B-ish version of Wilco. Now, if they put on live shows like Wilco too, then they're going to be one of my favorites for a long time. I hear a new album is soon on the way, and needless to say, I won't wait a year and a half to buy that one.

Oh, and they get bonus points for having possibly the weirdest band website of all-time.

* - There's one main characteristic of music snobbery that I fight against as hard as I can (though usually I lose that battle), and that's the "Find a group you like, love them to death, and pimp their name wherever you possibly can until everybody else finds out about them...and then disregard them" characteristic. Sorry, Jack Johnson, but I do in fact lose that battle sometimes. John Mayer, consider yourself lucky that I occasionally have snob willpower.