Deerhoof – Offend Maggie

Rating: ★★★★ ·

Deerhoof is often inexplicable; difficult to pinpoint their location in regards to musical genres, and Offend Maggie poses many of the same questions for listeners; a fact that completely works to the benefit of the band.

Their newest effort offers much of the same discordant guitar work accompanied by the unique vocals of singer Satomi.  This unique dynamic, or unique sound I should say, keeps the album interesting throughout, as you are not quite sure what to focus on: vocals or music.

Musically, this is the most accessible set of songs that the band has created, wavering back and forth between classic pop structures and post-punk sounds.  On the first listen, you can tell that the band put forth a great effort by creating entire songs, rather than the stop-start song structures of their last album, Friend Opportunity.

Offend Maggie would earn fans of all genres based entirely on the music.  Their are elements of grunge, early-emo, post-punk and, honestly, commercial rock n roll.  All of this demonstrates that the sound of the band is growing and developing beyond what most adoring fans expected, yet the continual focus will always be the listener’s interpretation of Satomi’s vocals.

Deerhoof will always risk total adoration due to these vocals.  At times, the heavily accented voice makes comprehension difficult for listeners, and as their focus heads toward deciphering the lyrics, their attention detracts from the overall listening experience as clever band interplay is missed.  Although the formula is so simple, one often finds that following the band is quite difficult, as if we all had ADD. They do offer a more traditional song by way of “Family of Others,” which lends its sound to that of west coast Beach Boy revivalists, yet the absence of Satomi on this song makes it entirely unfitting as a Deerhoof song.

Nonsensical vocals make it difficult to take much from the album, meaning wise.  One listen to “Basketball Get Your Groove Back” will lead most listeners to question the seriousness in the band’s approach to songwriting.  Still, it is the dark contrast between instrumentation and vocals that always makes it difficult to define such a genre splitting band.

At the end of the day, you’ll find that despite its incessant pitfalls in the lyrical department the album is ultimately one of the more rewarding listening experiences you will come across this year.  Deerhoof continue to explore their options whilst maintaining their ability to rest upon what has always made them interesting, Satomi’s inclusion as lead vocalist.  It’s the dark horse for 2008’s Top Ten.

Death Vessel – Nothing Is Precious Enough For Us

Rating: ★★★★ ·

Sub Pop records claimed that most journalists would find it quite difficult to place Death Vessel, as the band is virtually indescribable.  However, I like a good challenge, and since I like this record, I have vowed to do it justice.

Joel Thibodeau is the man behind the music, and perhaps the reason people find it so difficult to classify his music is his voice.  His voice is what you might call androgynous, standing a thin line between being thrown in one direction or another.  Regardless, it is very soothing whilst matching the music that it carries along.

Musically, it isn’t as difficult to put into place, if you were one to do such things.  I suppose I am one for such things, and in my decision to this I have come to three various pieces of Joel’s musical recipe: Iron and Wine, Deerhoof and Stephin Merritt (solo).

Death Vessel has previously toured with Iron and Wine, and the touches of folk leanings are immediately noticeable, though not necessarily ripped off.  The production has the intimacy of early Sam Beem works, while maintaing its own personality altogether.  It’s not as gentle as Iron and Wine, which is where I think the strength lies in this album.

As far as referencing Deerhoof, that lies in the ability for the songs to operate on various tangents, pulling back together uniquely, and never making you feel as if you really strayed very far from the core of the song.  The first few songs alone go from folk, to a hint of rockabilly and on to vaudeville.  It makes for an interesting listen, yet maintains its own uniqueness.

Now Stephin Merritt references I don’t throw around lightly, but if you’ve ever run across his solo works, and looked at the instrumentation he uses, you will find that Mr. Thibodeau is not far off in his own endeavors.  He calls upon many many friends to gather and flesh out his songs, much as Merritt has always done.  The best thing about this effort is that while several songs contain multiple instruments outside from the usual fashion, they all seem to find enough room in these songs.

My only draw back with this album is my own inability to connect to the lyrics.  They are indeed outside the typical writing style, but at times they resemble Lewis Carroll. Despite my inability to connect, they are still displayed in such a polite manner as to make a listener draw in closely, going deeper into the music as they do so.

When its all said and done, this is a genuinely unique album worthy of multiple l suggest picking it up immediately.  And, if you fall in love with it, as I did, you can check out the band on September 12th at Emos Lounge.  Tickets are available at TicketWeb or you can click this link.

Fun x 3 Fest News

Through that friendly Internet, we have learned that the dates have been set for Fun Fun Fun Fest 2008. This year the festival will fall on the weekend of November 8 & 9. So far, the only names that have been left out are those beginning with the letter D: Deerhoof, Dan Deacon and Dead Milkmen. I don’t know about you, but a re-united Dead Milkmen sounds pretty good to me. For those of you that missed out last year, be sure to make it out to this festival, for its probably the best one in town–just one man’s opinion. 

You can check out news and updates on the fun fun fun fest here, or you can just keep coming back to us; we’ll keep you up to date. 

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