Show Review: Destroyer @ The Mohawk (2/25)

Last Wednesday, we were treated to an evening of tunes from the legendary and mystical Dan Bejar. Riding high off the well receivedHave We Met, Bejar returned to the Mohawk to a nearly sold out crowd. After years of creating tunes largely under the radar, and really seeing his breakthrough record around a decade ago, I was pleased to see so many people brought back once more, or perhaps out to see Destroyer for the first time.

Click past the jump for words on the evening and some photos.

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Are You As Excited As You Should Be For The New Destroyer Album?

destroyer_band_print_41No? You’re not? What the fuck is wrong with you? I guess you haven’t heard “Dream Lover,” but it’s alright, because I’ve got you covered with another single from Destroyer’s Poison Season, which is coming out soon on August 28th via Merge Records. “Times Square,” gives you classic Dan Bejar– swirling lyrics and storytelling around his blend of orchestral rock. His signature drunken poet delivery is there and prominent and the word on the street is that this new album is going to be killer. Take a listen and get properly excited. Preorder it here. 

 

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What Can’t Destroyer Do?

dan-bejarI mean really? Over the years, we’ve heard Dan Bejar’s Destroyer go several different musical directions, and with “Dream Lover,” we get a step in the dream rock direction. Judging from the 8 times I’ve played this song since I first heard it, it’s a step in the right direction. This song is huge from the start, and then somehow gets even bigger with its horns-a-blazing finish. Bejar dreams of being lovers on the run, and the breezy music seems to capture this free spirited dream. Such is the perfect track to get you stoked for his upcoming album, Poison Season, which is out August 28th via Merge Records here in the States. August can’t come soon enough.

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The New Pornographers – Brill Bruisers

c0c1c6baRating: ★★★½☆

When it comes to indie rock super groups, you really can’t beat the likes of The New Pornographers. Making music together since 1999, this Canadian band consists of the best of the best, each of which have their own successful career be it alone or with another band. There’s Carl “A.C” Newman, Dan Bejar, Neko Case, and Kathryn Calder, just to name off a few, but let’s be honest: you should probably know who this band is as they’ve been around for longer than a decade and Brill Bruisers makes for their sixth full length release. Though it is sixth in a line of solid releases, by no means does it feel trite or banal—The New Pornographers have managed to do it once again.

With a band that is a culmination of so many great individual artists, I’m always flummoxed as to how this group can create a cohesive sound for their group. Sure, different artists take the lead on a track-to-track basis, incorporating their own styles, but Brill Bruisers manages to come together fairly easily. From opening title track to the last and glittering “You Tell Me Where,” the group hits their stride multiple times and gives you some great tunes.

I think it partially depends on which lead vocalist you like the best that will leads you to your favorite numbers. There’s Newman’s opening “Brill Bruisers,” which kicks the album off en medias res with the groups shimmery indie rock; the percussion is essentially all cymbal, the guitars’ blend in with the mix, synthesizers wander around through the song and the vocals of Newman lead you fearlessly through these airy walls of sound. Of course, he’s not alone, you get a lot of gang vocals singing back up through the whole song, which gives it an even lighter, poppier feeling. Later on you get Bejar’s unmistakable warbling vocals up to bat on “War On The East Coast,” which happens to be my favorite track on the record. The track seemingly makes comment on today’s general feeling of chaos and disarray—“look what we’re living in.” While the track rages on in full fury of to a build at the end, the choral hook has Bejar crooning “Oh, I don’t care, I don’t care,” making you want to scream right along with him, even if the sentiment is apathy, it’s still relatable. However, it’s not just the tracks with an outright lead vocal that will get you falling for them. On the contrary, “Fantasy Fools,” has a shared lead vocal that elbows its way into your list of highlights as well.

Though there’s a lot to love on Brill Bruisers, for me the album doesn’t go above and beyond to give you a sound that you want to sing to the world about. Sure, you’ll come back and jam with this group of lovable indie-poppers now and again, but there’s just a little bit missing from this release to push it to the next level.

Show Preview: Destroyer @ The Mohawk (3/25)

Date Friday, March 25th
Location Mohawk
Doors 800p
Tickets $12 from Transmission

What? You didn’t get enough good music from SXSW?  Good, because we’ve got one great bill laying in wait for you over at Mohawk this Friday.  First, you’ll get the quirky pop wonderment of Destroyer, or Dan Bejar if you like.  For his voice alone you should attend this show, nevermind the amazing song arrangements he’s managed to put together over the years.  Also, you’ll get one of our new favorites, War on Drugs, who craft really quiet, atmospheric numbers seemingly filled with secret messages.  This show could be out of this world, and we hope that you’ll head out to the Mohawk to meet up with us.  Both bands are guaranteed to be worth your time.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/01-Chinatown-1.mp3]

Download: Destroyer – Chinatown [MP3]

Destroyer – Kaputt

Rating: ★★★★☆

When thinking about Destroyer, one might envision the older drunkard who mumbles brilliant things under his breath. While Dan Bejar may or may not be drunk when he writes the songs for his albums, it is still obvious that he writes vaguely brilliant songs, often coupled with a variety of different musical accompaniments, which vary depending on the album. On Kaputt, it seems that Mr. Bejar has chosen to go the way of jazz, along with 80’s pop elements that put a new spin on his coded lyrics. 

 At the opening noises of “Chinatown,” it’s possible to think that perhaps you put a different CD into the player, due to the presence of saxophone and tambourine, but when the familiar guitar strumming is heard and Bejar begins his craft, you know you’re in the right place. The smooth jazz beat in the background mixes with voices, creating a hazy fog where Destroyer lives. It’s foggy enough so that you can see everything right away, but clear enough to understand and enjoy. Slowly, that irresistible beat pulls at the muscles in your feet and makes them tap, and you have been hypnotized by Kaputt.

I could go through the list of songs on this album and tell you of the brilliance in each and every single one, but that would spoil the fun for you. I will however tell you that along with this new jazzy sound, there are some other new aspects to the album, such as the presence of feminine vocals. No, Bejar does not climb to falsetto, but rather hires the vocal talent of Sibel Thrasher, who can be heard on almost every track. Whether it is a big part, or a tiny one, she adds another dimension to Destroyer—as if they needed more complexity. On “Kaputt”, she blends in with the lead vocals and disco beats, giving the impression that the narrator is an ambiguous figure, not just one man preaching to you about the delicate intricacies of life. At one point in the song, Bejar remarks that “it all sounds like a dream,” which sums up the lyrics, as well as the smooth music that becomes Kaputt, all swirling around in your head.

With this new spin on his wit, Destroyer’s choice to incorporate a different sound with their classic style contributes to the catalog of albums. It does not hinder the witty lyrics, nor does it take away from the intricacy that the group does so well. Bejar and company continue their path of wowing their audience with their sacred knowledge of changing just enough to keep their style fresh, but not too much where they have become unrecognizable.

If you’ve been a Destroyer fan since their origin in 1995, or this is your first experience with the group, the waves of cryptic lyrics will wash over you, leaving each person with your own spin on the meaning of his words, just like every well written album should.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/01-Chinatown-1.mp3]

Download: Destroyer – Chinatown [MP3]