Pitchfork gives Los Campesinos’ (coming to the Sett in January!) new album, Hello Sadness, an 8.0 in their review. Check out their opinions on “arguably the band’s darkest [album] yet” here.
Oh shit. That’s really all there is to say. Oh. Shit. I’ll admit, I was skeptical of All Hour Cymbals, Yeasayer’s 2007 debut album. But this, this is in a completely different league. Odd Blood is such a masterfully crafted album that words just escape me, that all I can do is stand here, mouth agape, in awe of how good this album is.
I’ll start with the most obvious thing: for as much experimentalism as Yeasayer wants to put all over their songs, there is an overwhelming sense of melody to nearly every song. The backing harmonies of Madder Red, and the chorus to “I Remember” are the kinds of melodies you’ll be humming under your breath for days. Yeasayer also know, even with the amount of sound in all these songs, to keep the tracks from feeling cluttered and overwhelming. Madder Red, even with its tribal drum beats and ambient textures, focuses on Anand Wilder’s vocal melody, one that is striking in its remorse and longing. I don’t remember that kind of depth and humanity being a part of All Hour Cymbals. Strong vocal melodies and especially a dynamic vocal range are an instrumental part to I Remember – when Chris Keating sings “You’re stuck in my mind all the time,” the dreamy, sing-songy way he sings it seems as though there is nothing he’d rather have than this memory. Don’t get me wrong, Yeasayer still write incredibly strange, experimental tracks, especially on the album’s second half. Love Me Girl relies on a stop-start rhythm and heavy sample usage, Rome feels almost like a swing song on acid, and Mondegreen has this weird stomp-clamp beat and big band feel that give it an almost gospel-like feel and make it arguably the most fun song on the album. But the best moments are not the experimental ones of the second half, but the more traditional pop ones on the first half.
There are a few complaints to be had. I wish the album started started with a stronger song than The Children. The Children sounds creepy and disjointed, and sets these feelings very well, but is not representative of the album. Odd Blood is warm, it’s inviting, it’s holistic, it’s everything that The Children is not. Had the album taken a different path, The Children would have fit in very nicely. It maybe could have even fit in with the second half. But as it is, it sticks out as being strikingly discordant with the rest of the album.
Even though I wasn’t impressed with All Hour Cymbals, I was excited for this album to drop. Yeasayer did a good job building up hype for the album – “Tightrope” was the best song off of Dark Was The Night, and “Ambling Alp” was a very strong track, one of the best I’d heard in the closing months of 2009. Odd Blood more than fulfills the promise of these two tracks. It is experimental without being disorienting, beautiful without losing any energy or urgency. The bar for 2010 has been set high.
Five Times August capped off a weekend of interesting experiments in Der Rathskeller. On Friday night for Los Campesinos! we tried to see how many people we could fit in Der Rathskeller and how sweaty, noisy, chaotic one mass of people could get.
On Saturday, Brad Skistimas, mastermind behind Five Times August, represented the converse (or maybe the control): a quiet singer-songwriter wooing a small subdued crowd of pre-twenty-somethings, who just kind of sat there. Der Rathskeller went from a steaming, ebbing and flowing fun house to a quaint sort of living room overnight. (see: German beer hall turned nursery)
Highlights of the night:
My introduction of Skistimas written by the band’s manager which included references to MTV’s The Hills and Lifetime’s Army Wives: dramatic pauses after the announcement of both television shows (per committee member Scott Janowiak’s advice) resounded in applause and roar, the most energy from the crowd all night.
At one point in the night, after Skistimas played his seemingly “big hit,” a group of people sitting front row and center, got up to leave with about 30 minutes left in the set, prompting Skistimas to call them “douche bags” and advising them to “have a few drinks and then drive home.” It was refreshing to see such grit from such a laid back performer who presented himself with no frills.
Maybe Der Rathskeller would have been more crowded if Jessica Simpson and Rascal Flatts weren’t playing at the Kohl Center at the same time.
Here are some more photos from the show courtesy of committee member Brigid Hogan:
Brandon Clementi rockin’ the mic and tearin’ up the dance floor (no jokes):