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Archive for the ‘The Go! Team’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: SLEIGH BELLS-Live at SXSW (2010).

Sleigh Bells were a very polarizing band last year.  Their album made many year end best of lists, but they were also hated by many music fans as well.  I fell somewhere in the middle.  They reminded me of The Go! Team, but without their quirky aspects.  Nevertheless, I found their songs to be a kind of industrial-lite, maybe a baby Ministry or something.  And that was interesting.

So I was intrigued by their live set which I downloaded from NPR’s All Songs Considered.  Their set is plagued by technical malfunctions.  And although they are the headliners (I guess, I don’t really know how SXSW works) their set barely ekes out to 25 minutes.  But they are very apologetic and seem to be nice enough folks.

They manage to play 6 songs (2 songs are beset with disaster–they restart “A/B Machines” but give up on the second to last song altogether and play a different one).  Their onstage dynamic was interesting (at first I thought they weren’t going to talk to the crowd at all, but once the machines broke, they were quite amiable).  I gather the whole band was Derek Miller playing guitar and all the samples and Alexis Krauss singing (she’s really out of breath when the song malfunctions, so she must be quite an energetic performer).  Their set impressed me enough to want to check out their CD for real (I only listened to one song when it made all those lists).

This is an interesting set, especially if you like to hear a band cope with technical difficulties.

[READ: March 28, 2011] “Fictional Houses”

This third piece in The Walrus’ 2005 Summer Reading issue is more of a photo essay than anything.  But the premise behind it is really great (and it is included in the Fiction section of the magazine).

The essay explains that in neighborhoods across Canada, hydro companies created electrical substations to handle power for those communities.  But rather than allow huge electrical monstrosities to reside in these communities, they corporations built full houses around them.  These houses were not simple facades but actual houses with electricity and which really gave the appearance of families living there (even though no one ever would).  That is an amazingly thoughtful thing for a huge corporation to do.

Now, since these stations are no longer needed, the houses are being sold off. Collyer made a point of travelling around to as many as were still extant to take pictures of them.  The pictures themselves don’t speak much because they are simply normal houses that blend in with the community.  But it’s amazing seeing the seven houses and seeing how very different they are.  The two in Toronto are quite lovely two-story houses.  Indeed the one on Spadina Road, with the trees grown in, is quite lovely (see below).  The houses in Scarborough are smaller affairs but are not too shabby either. (more…)

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ny1020SOUNDTRACK: TOKYO POLICE CLUB: A Lesson in Crime EP (2006).

tokyoWhen Toronto’s Tokyo Police Club released their album Elephant Shell, there were quite a lot of rave reviews for it, but almost all of the reviews talked about how great this EP was.  So, I opted to check out their EP first.  And how can you go wrong with a seven song EP that totals about 16 minutes?  Even though I am fond of the long digressive progressive rock style, I also really love really short songs.  And these are short, and very good.

Despite the speed of the EP, and the shortness of the songs, the band isn’t hardcore, and is sort of barely even punk.  Rather, they play high energy, no frills rock.  Their sound is more high end with guitar lines playing melodies and the bass taking a back seat.  The start of the album is a little misleading what with the singer screaming “Operator. Get me the President of the World” suggesting that chaos is forthcoming.  But rather, the songs are very fun, with spazzy guitar lines and really catchy choruses.

“If It Works” even has a break for a second of silence (unexpected in a song that’s only 2 minutes long). “Citizens of Tomorrow” has a few softer moments in it (followed by a chorus that reminds me of The Go! Team). They fit in nicely with the rock revival bands that have been making the rounds lately.  I’m very interested in their full length.

[READ: November 12, 2008] “Sleep”

This is a short, affectionate story by Roddy Doyle.  I enjoyed it very much.  It concerns a long-married couple and how much the husband enjoys watching his wife sleep.  There’s some flashbacks, including the time she slept from Friday night until Sunday morning, as well as some medical revelations that are scary but which he believes they can get through.  It’s nice to read a short, sweet story that, despite the difficulties, ends happily.

It’s available here, and if you’ve not read anythign of Doyle’s (or anything since his earlier funnier works) this is a good story to get a feel for his more mature stories.

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SOUNDTRACK: THE GO! TEAM-Proof of Youth (2007).

I reviewed the first Go! Team record a few months ago. I really enjoyed it but I wondered what they could do for a follow up. And, indeed, I was right to wonder. This album follows very similarly to their first record. They use a similar style of cheerleader/chanting over fuzzed out dance songs. About half the songs are just as catchy as on the first record, but overall, the whole album just doesn’t live up to the first one.

Part of the problem is the guest rappers they add, and there are quite a few. On the first song. “Grip Like a Vice,” Lisa Lee does a rap that I’m still not convinced isnt’ lifted wholly from a 1980s rap album. The chorus ends: “Party people in the place, get ready for this To you! So what you wanna do? So do you wanna rock the house and turn this mutha out?” Really? That’s the best you can do in 2008? How many times have we heard this couplet before? I mean, heck, I understand the whole sound is retro but COME ON!

The second strike against the record is the use of Chuck D. Now, Chuck D is, simply, the greatest voice in rap. Or speaking, or anything. He has a commanding presence, he has great rhythm, and he really made Public Enemy a force to be reckoned with. So, how could I complain about his use on this record? Well, because his voice is completely lost in the cacophony. You can barely hear him. What a waste of talent! I’ve listened to the song about 6 times and I’m still not sure what he’s saying. Public Enemy told us to Bring the Noise, but you could always hear Chuck telling us to bring it. Gah!

So, anyhow, the rest of the album contains this cacophonous mindset; however, because the cheerleader singers are high pitched girls, you can hear them over the static, the bass and the general sense of noise. You can’t help but hear that everything sounds kind of staticky. I know it’s done on purpose, but it just sounds like there’s a white noise machine on in the background.

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ny115.jpgSOUNDTRACK: THE GO! TEAM-Thunder, Lightning , Strike (2004).

goteam.jpgThe Go! Team have a new album out and so I dug out their first to see if I liked it enough to check out the new one. This first one is such a weird album. It feels intensely like what I would call a joke album. There are cheesy horns, crazy samples of cheerleaders cheering, and hooks hooks hooks! It all sounds like the soundtrack to the best 70s action TV show that never existed. And yet the whole thing works so well. It is just so damned catchy. I listened to it about 3 times today and never got sick of it.

I can’t really imagine how you would follow it up…more of the same would be lame, but where could you possibly go from there? I’ll definitely be looking into it.

[READ: November 5, 2007] “The Dog.”

My initial exposure to Roddy Doyle was through his early, funny stories (Woody Allen shout out, there). And as he continues writing, his stories get darker and darker. Not mean spirited or sadistic, just kind of sad and fate-filled. While I do miss the funny Roddy, this newer side writes so precisely and so beautifully that it’s hard to complain. (more…)

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