October 31, 2006

It’s not much of a stretch to say that rock ‘n’ roll masculinity is pretty much based on sex. A lot of rock band frontmen cultivate an image and a sound that solely aims to prove that they could show you a good time and that they’ve got a big dick.

Sure, this takes different forms. After all, the hip-swinging Elvis gave way within a few decades to the androgyny and high-camp of glam. But even when David Bowie or Marc Bolan flirted with different genders and sexualities, you were never in doubt that they were highly sexual. The only questions were how and with whom they would be doing the nasty.

Hence the extreme anti-sexual current to post-punk and hardcore music makes some sense as a reaction to the overt horniness of 70s music. At the heavier end of things, Minor Threat’s Ian Mackaye and the “straight-edge” set railed against promiscuity. However, even then there was an almost sexual dimension to hardcore’s muscular aggression and some bands took things further by developing a studied naivety—acting as if they weren’t quite sure what this ‘sex’ thing was and even less sure whether they liked the idea.

Interestingly enough, this kind of childishness can provoke a stronger negative response than the often nasty misogynistic sexuality we see elsewhere. The general community feeling is that people should want sex and anyone who professes otherwise is immediately suspect.

Of course, there will always be boys and girls who don’t fit with the broader culture’s in-your-face raunch and, consequently, there will always be artists that cater to this alienation. It’s not clear how much of the coyness is genuine and how much is a political statement, or even a clever ploy at getting into sensitive girls’ pants. But it’s interesting to observe the trends and artists that take this approach.

Few bands have been more studied in their childishness than The Boy Least Likely To. The British two-piece’s debut album was called The Best Party Ever and was filled with childish monsters and symbols as representations for the difficulties of adulthood. Single “Be Gentle With Me” is romantic, but awfully wimpy. It’s impossible to imagine many male singers putting themselves in the prone, vulnerable position Jof Owen takes in this story.

Swedish twee popster Jens Lekman’s musical persona is equally ineffectual and awkward. The narrator of “Black Cab” complains of his tendency to ruin parties and worries about the dangerous driving habits of cabbies. Unlike the plethora of Death Metal dudes that come out of his home town of Gothenburg, Jens isn’t the kind of guy you can see winning a fist-fight or stealing your girl. Although, he just might—the number of girls I know who swoon when they hear Jens ruing his failures and inadequacies is truly astounding.

The long-term success of bands like Belle and Sebastian, and the rise of upstarts like Jens and The Boy Least Likely To, suggests there’s definitely a market for this kind of music. In fact, twee music has entered something of a renaissance in recent years. Maybe the girly men are having the last laugh.

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David Pullar | 12:00 am | Comments (1)

October 30, 2006

I’m normally too much of an earnest music writer/fan to have much time for parody songs. I’m not averse to songwriter wit, but when the humor’s about as subtle as a teenage boy in heat, I’m inclined to turn off the stereo and do the dishes. My main beef is that music is such a wonderfully expressive artform—so why the compulsion to waste this virtue? If a songwriter goes to the effort of making arrangements, conceiving harmonies, and refining production, then surely they should attempt to say something meaningful. Too often, listeners settle for mere novelties—a cheap guffaw over a real melody. That is not my philosophy.

However, there are exceptions. A humorless writer I am not. (Normally.) Tripod are one of these “humor” bands that I am willing to afford some time. They’ve become renowned in Australia for their “Song in an Hour” segments on local youth radio station Triple J, where they compose a song in one hour based on ridiculous scenarios: think “The Ballad of Floor Buffer Smurf.” Invariably, their songs contain hilarious lyrics and inspired musical arrangements.

Bevan the Musical” was where it all started for Tripod, when lead singer Gatesy paired up with local comedian Peter Helliar to tell the tale of Bevan. Very rarely would you find a song that references Danni Minogue and Jon Stevens, and pairing Led Zeppelin with “Heaven Is a Place on Earth.” Sure, ultimately the song hinges upon a bunch of puns on the word heaven, but “Bevan the Musical” transcends its humble origins. If you listen to the impassioned, over-the-top vocal from Gatesy and the sardonically straight narration from Helliar, you’ll see easily where the song succeeds. The interplay between these apparently serious—but deadly sarcastic—performances with the cackling laughter of the radio DJs gives the recording an exuberant energy.

Like many of the novelty songs that it plays, Triple J had a radio hit with this song. But for licensing issues, “Bevan the Musical” would have dominated end-of-year best-of compilations. Evidently, those damn lawyers don’t have a sense of humor.

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Michael Tran | 12:00 am | Comments (1)

October 27, 2006

Low - Dark

The title’s more pornographic than intended, but I’ve been on a helpless shoegazing binge these past few days. With talk (very, very nervous talk stateside) of China’s space industry advancements, my mind naturally wandered to my favorite space station, Souvlaki. Slowdive never grabbed me by the horns. Instead they always flirted with promises of eyelid kisses until I found my lashes almost touching (something partially lost in their move to Mojave 3). Then, yesterday, I found a reason to be afraid of the dark when some jackass’s vomit splashed onto my shoes at a local gig. I looked at my blemished laces with a vengeful eye as the bastard slurred, “Hey, it could be worse. At least you weren’t wearing your Cons…”

This is for you, Mr. I’m Too Scene To Hold My Alcohol.

Slowdive - Dagger

I live in a beautiful state with beautiful people and beautiful weather. I am not a beautiful state. I am a maelstrom of angst in fitted jeans and a closet full of Polo shirts from a few years back that Spin wrote I should be ashamed of. I’m late to the Girl Talk show, or the Wolf Eyes show, or whatever. Was it Wolf Parade? Wolf Eyes? My friend told me Wolf something? Maybe he meant a song; maybe it’s Duran Duran. Maybe it’s TV On the Radio. Shit, it’s electroclash night and 80s night, too, and I said I’d meet the guys for a PBR beforehand. Okay, time to think. I can easily venue hop between the three with a Talking Heads t-shirt and a Depeche Mode wristband. Wait, Talking Heads or The Smiths? Will Moz know if I put him back in the closet? I didn’t mean that in a “gay” way. Did he hear that? Moz, if you heard that, I don’t think you’re gay, but this Smiths shirt is maroon and it won’t really show up under the black lights. Talking Heads and Depeche Mode it is.

I’m a mile from the venue and my bike’s rear tire is leaking air. I want to pedal harder, but I don’t want to sweat. Why did I wear two vests? It’s October in Florida! Shut up. Come on, you know the saying: no pain, no complaining about how you’re in pain. Well, maybe I can take off some layers for the ride over. Oh no (oh my)! Now it looks as though David Byrne is sweating. David Byrne does not sweat. “The world is full of noise, yeah / I hear it all the time.” I should not pant; it will contribute to the noise pollution and I’ll be just bad as those Exxon tycoons killing seals from when I was four. I’m no seal killer.

It’s getting late. The show has started. I should have eaten something after Krishna Lunch. Drinking that bottle of homemade wine was a bad idea. I’m hungry like the Wolf Parade and David Byrne looks awful plastered against my wiry frame. I told Athena I had my nipples pierced and now she knows I lied, and that I made David Byrne sweat. She’d said yes when I asked if she wanted to cry with me at the Xiu Xiu concert next week, but now she’s walking over to Zach and something tells me I’ve blown it. Where are the guys? The girl who works at the thrift store keeps looking at me. She’s holding a Red Stripe. Maybe I can buy her a drink, maybe I can get a discount off my next purchase, maybe she won’t be shallow. She’ll overlook my sweat and mess and tussled hair and think me a trendsetter. Wait, grunge is dead, isn’t it? She’s so pretty. We’re meant to be together. I know it. We could have a Killers poster outside our walk-in closet, and share each other’s pants, and fight about whether Bonnie Billy and Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy are the same guy. Hey, didn’t he have a wolf song, too? Wolves something? Maybe he’s up next! This is SO my night! Two PBRs, please. It’s all uphill from here…

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Rahawa Haile | 12:00 am | Comments (0)

October 26, 2006

The 90s seemed to be the last gasp for the garage-rock band’s one-hit wonder. But, whereas the past forty years had lived up to the archetype laid out perfectly in Tom Hanks’ That Thing You Do!—wherein a band (in the film, “The Wonders,” yuk, yuk) has one great song that grows from the local level to briefly hit the national level, only to fall hard—the ‘90s broke the mold: the bands that ended up being one-hit wonders almost always had more strong material behind them that could have easily put them over the top. (If only they’d had a record company who was looking for more than just the flavor-of-the-month…)

Case-in-point: Superdrag, a Knoxville, TN based band who signed with Elektra Records after the success of their debut EP, The Fabulous 8-Track Sound of Superdrag. With a sound that was equal parts Weezer and British Invasion, Superdrag was sure to be successful, and they were: at least for a while. They made an album, 1996’s Regretfully Yours and the group’s video for their first single “Sucked Out” became a “Buzz Clip” on MTV, joining the ranks of other one-hit wonders like Primitive Radio Gods’ “Standing Outside a Broken Phone Booth With Money in My Hand” and that “Cantaloop (Flip Fantasia)” song.

Superdrag took the good will they’d garnered from Elektra, went up to Woodstock, NY and made a glorious second album complete with orchestras, pianos, and (predictably) songs that weren’t quite as commercial as its predecessor. It was the album they’d always wanted to make, and they had been given the money to make it. Unfortunately, the suits didn’t want Superdrag’s Pet Sounds. They wanted the hits. But the way Elektra reacted to Head Trip in Every Key; you would have thought they’d made Metal Machine Music. It’s so cliché, it’s almost sick. The label cut the band’s funding and eventually Superdrag asked to be dropped from Elektra.

This is why I don’t get labels. It just doesn’t make much sense. Listen to “Do the Vampire,” it’s all crunching, catchy riffs, poppy choruses, and harmony vocals. Sure it’s not quite the same brand of sugary pop as “Sucked Out,” but it’s not “Revolution 9” either; it’s not even “El Scorcho.” Maybe there’s that slight lag in the middle and they were afraid the stupid audience would think the song was over and change the dial. I don’t know much, but it sounds like a radio hit to me. But this was 1998, the year Kid Rock and Limp Bizkit were breaking out. Did Superdrag’s brand of power-pop really stand a chance against “Nookie”?

Superdrag’s next album, In the Valley of Dying Stars (released on the indie label Arena Rock Recordings) starts off with “Keep It Close to Me,” which begins with an obvious ode to the band’s former employers, “I want rock n’ roll, but I don’t wanna deal with the hassle.” As if to rub it in Elektra’s face even more, Stars is a far more commercial effort than Head Trip.

The band’s last gasp was 2002’s Last Call for Vitriol, an album with a sound that varied wildly; going from Replacements-esque alt. rock to straight up Eagles rip-offs.

Unfortunately, in 2002, front man John Davis, an alcoholic, became a born again Christian and decided “the band was a mouthpiece for the life he left behind.” He moved to Nashville and has become a session musician and released a couple of surprisingly good, Beach Boys-influenced gospel records.

This band wasn’t The Wonders. They had the songs and they had the chops, but, as is the case with many of the ‘90s casualties, no record companies were willing to give them a chance to prove it, and the band eventually just didn’t want to “deal with the hassle.” It wasn’t worth it. And it’s the listening audiences that lost out.

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Stephen Belden | 12:00 am | Comments (2)

October 25, 2006

Some songs grab your attention from the get-go. They may reach for your nether regions and never let go; others still may deftly seduce your intellect. However, first and foremost is the reaction in the listener. The dissection of this reaction comes afterward. Perhaps the dissection reveals processes more rational than visceral. No matter: the best songs make a connection with the listener at a primarily instinctive level.

An out-of-control-lurching-car of a song, “Sugarcoat” blasts away from 0:00.01, all thunderous drums and curdled vocals. The first two verses and choruses roll by and after two minutes you’ve already hit the middle eight. The substantive part of the song is over one minute later, followed by a two-minute coda consisting of little more than a chant of “Better off this way.”

That’s the schematic diagram of the song, but such an analysis does it a disservice. It wouldn’t exactly be the natural approach for Subaudible Hum, who come off as the bastard child of The Drones, Modest Mouse, and Gomez. Subaudible Hum’s forte is “plus the kitchen sink” blues, combining mainstream hooks with visceral grunt, all wrapped in a heaving dynamic. This style has gained a foothold in the mainstream as The White Stripes pave the way for blues-based experimentalism and Wilco embrace the noise. Perhaps listeners are becoming more primal in their tastes. Then again, maybe now we’re all a little more open-minded.

The barely-in-control chaos of “Sugarcoat” is cathartic and oddly compelling. It appeals to the ear as much as a train wreck holds the eye. You can almost smell the bile through the closely-miked vocals. Be thankful that, instead, you hear each gasp of air—a no less potent technique that heightens the contrast between soothing chorus and abrasive verse. Throughout, toms pan across the spectrum, bringing to mind a chef mid-tantrum.

“Sugarcoat” may have a repetitive chorus (if you could call “Sugarcoat / Better off this way / Better off this way” a chorus) and the melody may be minimal in its invention, but the sinister ringing of the guitars and the lumbering rhythms compensate. More importantly, I can’t shake the overall impression that this Melbourne quartet is a little bit different.

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Michael Tran | 12:00 am | Comments (1)

October 24, 2006

Superchunk’s Mac McCaughan is a reliable guy. Over the course of eight Superchunk full-lengths, several collections and EPs, and more than a dozen releases from side-project Portastatic, McCaughan has given us hours of memorable, shambolic, punky indie-pop. Even Superchunk’s least acclaimed albums are still some fan’s favorite. The guy even has time to run one of America’s premier indie record labels, Merge. Talk about a work ethic!

In fact, McCaughan’s dependability is what’s often most counted against him. It’s hard to get excited when each album is pretty much on par with the last. We need drama, a sophomore slump, a major-label sell-out, a triumphant return-to-form. What do we get? Album after album of quality music.

Mac himself is also no doomed rock ‘n’ roll fuck-up. There’s no stories of Mötley Crüe excess. No acid-induced mental breakdown. He’s a smart, self-effacing guy with a knack for a catchy tune and pretty impressive business sense.

So it’s quite ironic to find that one of his strongest efforts is the facetiously-titled “You Can Always Count On Me (In the Worst Way).”

The song dates from Superchunk’s late 90s sessions with indie super-producer (I love that phrase) Jim O’Rourke and the resulting Come Pick Me Up album. After a difficult transition from raucous grunge-era noise merchants to jaunty jangle-popsters, Superchunk finally hit their stride and nailed the elusive sound they had hinted at over the previous few albums.

In the first twelve tracks of the album, the band smashed its way through a top-shelf mix of rockers and ballads, with witty, sensitive lyrics and memorable hooks. And then McCaughan has the nerve to paint himself as a great failure? Who’s he kidding?

“You Can Always Count On Me” starts off with a fade-in to a delicate, lilting waltz, with Mac crooning the title line. The instruments weave in and out of each other, and then the song kicks into the driving 4/4 main stretch. The pay-off comes just after the two-minute mark with a sun-kissed climactic chorus that ends the album, leaving you cursing the band for ending things too soon.

As one of the best songs on one of the best albums by one of the best bands of the last two decades, it’s a perfect summary of what makes Superchunk so great. For McCaughan, failure is not an option.

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David Pullar | 12:00 am | Comments (1)

October 23, 2006

This one is self-explanatory: Just a selection of great tracks that clock under a minute and thirty seconds. Suggestions welcomed.

18,000 Lira” is, for me, Art Brut boiled down to its essence: Eddie Argos shredding his lungs on the chorus, rollicking drums, and unforgiving speed guitars. The guitars here are able to work in a rather catchy hook while Argos rambles about head colds and scooters or something. Art Brut writes devastatingly beautiful love songs, but when they get punk-y and sloppy like this, they’re best digested in under a minute and a half.

The Clap” finds The Unicorns at their most linear and intense. Besides a synth whirl buried deep, deep in the mix, this is just a straight-ahead attack of My First Power Chords and a relentless bass drum. The lyrics are nonsensical of course, but the pay-off comes at the raucous solo during the last thirty seconds.

I didn’t really start to froth over Man Man’s “Young Einstein on the Beach” until I saw them play it live; with Honus Honus and drummer Pow Pow simultaneously leaping out of their seats and the rest of the band engaging in break-neck head banging. So I don’t know if this is going to click for you as an mp3, but there is something really cathartic about seeing people yelling “GOTTA GET HIM GET HIM GOT HIM GOTTA GET HIM GET HIM GOT HIM!”

I’m kind of cheating here—this one is by my count 1:33—and I like The Streets just okay, but “Sharp Darts” off of Original Pirate Material, rides the fetus of a Madlib beat—just heavy, heavy bass and a little drum loop—but gets accented by what sounds like a sample of a zipper getting pulled at hyperspeed. This doesn’t really rank high on the list of jaw-dropping Mike Skinner stories, but the rub here is in the hook where Skinner works up a melody that’s the equivalent of a Grime-lullaby. I think.

Honorable Mention
The Hives- Abra Cadabra
The Pipettes- I Love You
The Boy Least Likely To- Warm Panda Cola

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Jordan Sargent | 12:00 am | Comments (3)

October 20, 2006

Neil Young – Needle and the Damage Done

The Harvest Moon occurred this past weekend. Aside from being a lovely sight, it also caused my mind to wander toward the musically inviolable. That said, I’m not ashamed to declare that, as a Neil Young fan, I absolutely hate Living With War, and I downright despise our response to it.

Honestly, I can’t help but wonder whether the album was so highly lauded because of its own musical merit, or because it was a NEIL YOUNG album about “sticking it to the man.” As a card-carrying liberal, I’m all for sticking it to the man (especially the man Neil stuck it to), criticizing the current political arena, and so on. I’m all for protest music. I don’t sleep with my Gram Parsons and Phil Ochs albums under my pillow, but I treasure them as much as any fan of music. However, Living With War’s reception seems entirely hypocritical. It’s as though we somehow forgot all the criticisms we mounted against most Christian Rock and were willing to consider, yes, I’ll say it, mind-numbing music as acceptable because its message catered to us. I should also note that I’m not against simplicity, as many fans of Living With War will point to the music’s straightforwardness as part of its allure. I do, however, think we’re giving credit where credit isn’t due.

“Needle and the Damage Done” has never meant much to me aside from being a truly fantastic song; drugs have not devastated my friends’ lives or mine. But now, in 2006, I hear this song and think of another needle, that of the stylus on my record player, and the damage that can result when we listen to legacy before the music itself. It’s not okay to praise substandard music because you’re angry about the same thing the musician is. There are plenty of angry musicians ranting about politics. One asked, “Where were you when the world stopped turning on that September day?” Remember what we thought of him? Exactly.

The Ditty Bops – It’s a Shame

Go on. Play the song. Hear her talk/sing the line “sipping canned air in the shade of an apartment that’s built to break,” reflect on your past five years, and let it break your heart over and over again. Aside from being a sucker for waltzes, and this happening to be an utterly charming one, it serves as a nice transition. I fell head-over-heels for The Ditty Bops’ quiet, old-timey sound and the pleasant images it conjured when they opened for Nickel Creek on their latest (last?) tour. Their album, Moon Over the Freeway, which is exactly what the aforementioned Harvest Moon was on my trip down to Miami, is wonderful for nighttime driving. I suppose I could go on and make a grandiose link between Young and the Bops, but I suppose the titles say it all; there’s an old needle doing some new damage, and I think it a shame.

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Rahawa Haile | 12:00 am | Comments (10)

October 19, 2006

Steve Albini in the 80s was one of the most recognizable figures of the underground rock scene. First writing confrontational and scathing articles for various zines; then as a member of the most abrasive band to ever use a drum machine, Big Black, Albini became well known for his outspoken philosophies on the indie scene and the recording industry as a whole.

He extends his beliefs to his work an engineer/producer; Albini refuses to take royalties on a band’s album, he is willing to record anyone who is able to pay him (from Jimmy Page and Robert Plant to a no-name garage band from Toledo), and doesn’t consider himself a producer and in fact, despises the occupation, believing the act of a person outside of the band taking the reins of a band’s recording is an “insult” to the musicians. Instead he insists on being called a “recording engineer” if anything, and usually eschews any credits on the record packaging.

But what’s really amazing about Albini is that he lives up to what he says; rarely, if ever, has he compromised his beliefs for any reason. He often talks of how he wishes to record the way the band actually sounds, no more, no less. Albini isn’t interested in special effects or even doing dozens of takes to get something to sound right. He often has a band play live in one room as they would in concert or at a rehearsal, which, if you think about it, makes a lot more sense than placing each musician in a different room and having them play the hell out of their one part until it sounds exactly right. No matter how perfect it may sound, rarely does it capture the raw sound of a live performance. Albini on the other hand, has become an expert on recording techniques and microphones in order to be able to record pretty much anything that is thrown at him. Ultimately, this may make for a crappy album. If the band can’t play or if their songs suck, that’s not really Albini’s problem. If they suck, they suck, and what Albini claims is that he will capture their suckiness as accurately as possible.

While Albini claims he doesn’t “have a sound”, and that he wishes to leave no fingerprints on a recording, he’s mostly right. When you hear a recording Steve Albini has worked on, you might not realize it immediately. But put on your headphones and listen to Guided by Voices’ “Sheet Kickers” off their Under the Bushes, Under the Stars LP (which Albini recorded under the name “Fluss”). Starting off with a booming bass that sounds like the cabinet is right behind you; Robert Pollard’s voice comes in, completely natural and laced with minimal reverb, a sharp contrast to the lo-fi heavily reverbed vocals on his earlier recordings. But what really stands out on this track (and often every track he does) is Albini’s recording of guitars and drums; the guitar attacks the listener, sounding violent and completely unprocessed. But the drums are the highlight: Albini makes drums sound exactly like they sound when you’re in a huge, empty hall they’re extremely loud and primal, but he manages to mix them so they’re not completely overbearing. If it’s not GBV’s best song, it may still be their best sounding song.

Or check out Slint’s chaotic “Ron,” the lead track from their Tweez LP, featuring a sneaker-melting riff with some bizarre percussion that sounds like a metal chain being violently banged, combined with lead singer Brian McMahan asking an unresponsive Albini if he should change his “fucked up” headphones before launching into a blistering vocal. At under two minutes, the track captures Albini at his best; absolutely unrelenting.
However, I take Albini to task saying that he won’t make a crappy band sound any better if they’re already crappy.

Case in point: Bush’s “Swallowed.” Bush pretty much sucks, as everyone knows. They are to Nirvana what The Monkees were to The Beatles (only The Monkees are actually pretty great). But I’ll be damned if “Swallowed” doesn’t sound damn entertaining playing through my headphones. The bass line on the verses rumbles like an earthquake aftershock; the slamming, visceral drums and the viciously squealing guitar lines wailing on the chorus make me giddy; Albini’s production is so visceral and urgent, I find myself wondering if maybe I should reassess Gavin Rossdale’s level of suck…nah.

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Stephen Belden | 12:00 am | Comments (3)

October 18, 2006

In all of our journalistic earnestness, we expect too much from music. We classify songs with nerdish accuracy in the belief that they actually matter in the same way that greenhouse gases matter. We dissect a lyric to delve into its meaning, as if a muso’s opinion suddenly holds more weight because it’s backed by a jangling Rickenbacker. Too often, our considerations when writing about music are anything but musical in nature. It’s all a little ridiculous. What the rock crit fraternity—whoever the hell they/we are—should really write about is good music. A good song is a good song is a good song. No amount of navel gazing can deny this fact.

I’ll lead the way. Formerly of Newcastle indie rock band Muzzy Pep—one of the most ramshackle band of unprofessionals I’ve ever seen (and an entire Stypod entry themselves)—Errol J.M. has struck out on his own with “Zeros and Ones.” It’s garnered significant airplay on Australia youth radio station Triple J, which thrives on this sort of pop/rock. And sure, “Zeros and Ones” seems like the typical fodder of your (more discerning and less aggressive) adolescent. There are guitars, a definite air of coolness (particularly in the sparsely textured verses) and a little quirkiness to the lyric. It would have grabbed my attention as a fifteen year old. However, that is not meant to be a criticism. There’s a lot more to this song than first inspection would suggest. Perhaps I was a discerning adolescent.

Errol J.M. has a talent for melody and on “Zeros and Ones” this prolific talent is evident. The song has three distinct hooks—the verse, the chorus (There’s something wrong with this picture…”) and the bridge (“No pictures, no comments…”). Where other songwriters struggle even to find one for a song, each hook in “Zeros and Ones” is compelling in its own right. The bridge in particular is a classic—expanding upon the melodic ideas in the verse and building the tension for the final cathartic chorus. I defy you not to be humming this song after a few spins.

More noteworthy perhaps is the song’s arrangement. It’s rhythmically simplistic throughout, built on steady eighth notes in the drums and guitar. The beat is one that’s guaranteed to get your head bobbing and after two lines of the verse the understated—and soberly straight—groove is well established. Layers are added progressively—harmonies here, electric guitar lines there. The song is catchy, if likely to peter out into a distant indie memory. However, much like that Scottish anthem “Take Me Out,” the second half explodes into orbit. Fuzzed guitar blares in your right ear and crash cymbals take center stage. There isn’t much that’s musically different, but the texture thickens and the energy lifts noticeably. Errol J.M.’s voice, previously oh-so-smooth in the verses, is now distorted and antagonistic.

After a little over three minutes the song crashes into a heap, with only the ringing guitar ostinato piercing the din. It draws you back to the song’s beginning, when that same riff heralded such promise. Promise of what I can’t say exactly; nor can I say that post-“Zeros and Ones” I’m that much more fashionable or enlightened. However, I do feel exhilarated and enthused once more about music. Surely that is all we should expect from a good song.

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Michael Tran | 12:00 am | Comments (1)

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