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Archive for the ‘Craig Raine’ Category

newyorker jun1SOUNDTRACK: ART BRUT-Art Brut vs. Satan (2009).

art brutI’ve mentioned Art Brut before. I enjoy their talky/punk style. This, their new album, is produced by Frank Black of Pixies fame.  I can’t honestly say that I see a real difference in production values, but I don’t usually notice things like that.

What I did notice is that Art Brut are branching out a little bit from just having  Eddie Argos dramatically reciting his lyrics. On “What a Rush” there’s a group chorus of “Parents, please lock up your daughters.”  And on “Summer Job” there’s a “woah ho o oh” singalong bit from a different band member as well as a sung chorus.  But aside from that they are still the same Art Brut.

The focus of Argos’ rants this time seems to be very music-centered.  “Slap Dash for No Cash” describes the kind of recording style he likes (and which was presumably used on this disc).  Meanwhile, “The Replacements” is all about his shock at only just now discovering this awesome band (and his further shock that they are almost old enough to be his parents). And, of course, there’s the ever present concern of an indie band disliking and being disliked by the mainstream: “How am I supposed to sleep at night when no one likes the music we write? The record buying public, we hate them: This is Art Brut vs. Satan”

Argos’ lyrics also return inevitably to love and sex and drinking (not necessarily in that order) with “Alcoholics Unanimous” and “Mysterious Bruises.”

There’s also a song that absolutely must be used in a future episode of The Big Bang Theory (are you listening Chuck Lorre?): “DC Comics and Chocolate Milkshake.”  Can you not see the perfect setup: the song is playing in the background, and as the woman that Leonard falls for leaves the comic book shop, the soundtrack breaks to the line: “I’m in love with a girl in my comic shop.  She’s a girl who likes comics. She probably gets that a lot.”

Many of their songs are funny, but to me they don’t come across as a joke band.  And despite Argos’ great delivery and witty lyrics, it’s the music that really sells the album.  You don’t notice at at first, but it’s what makes these songs more than just novelties.  The guitar solos and opening riffs are really memorable, and when the songs start, the punk guitar blasts are really catchy.

My one gripe is that on some songs, Argos repeats the same line.  A LOT.  So on “Mysterious Bruises,” a song I like, by then end I don’t want to hear him say that he’s had one Zirtec and two Advil again and again.  And that is the one pitfall that Art Brut can stumble into once in a while.  For most bands, a chorus that is sung many times can be catchy and fun to sing along to.  Art Brut’s spoken lyrics are fun to hear, and might be fun to shout along with in a concert, but hearing him repeat himself can be tedious when there’s no melody (I find this true of Rage Against the Machine as well, as Zach de la Rocha is the king of repetition.  The king of repetition.  The king of repetition.) Fortunately Argos doesn’t do it all that often.  And the album stands up to multiple listens.

[READ: May 27, 2009] “Love Affair with Secondaries”

This story, set in Moscow, concerns a man, his wife, and his mistress.  The man, Piotr, recently had some tests done to see if he inherited a familial cancer.  With this hanging over his head, he tries to prove to himself how alive he is by sleeping with his mistress Agnieszka.

The affair is conducted in his own house, because his wife Basia is out until late most evenings. One day Basia comes home while Agnieszka is still in the house.  As Agnieszka flees the house, Basia hits her with a blunt instrument; Basia later claims that she now has a tumor.  Piotr, wracked with guilt for cheating and for this presumed cancer doesn’t know what to do. (more…)

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