Monday, February 22, 2010
The Creatures In The Garden Of Lady Walton
9.2, Brassland records, 2010
Clogs are a 4 piece band featuring Bryce Dessner (from The National) on guitar, Padma Newsome on violin, viola, piano, and vocals, Rachel Elliott on Bassoon and percussionist Thomas Kozumplik. They are traditionally known for their instrumental work but 8 of the 10 songs on the album feature vocals of some sort. Their genres can range from classical to post-rock to acoustic singer-songwriter.
The first track on the album called "Cocodrillo" features only vocals. It's a very interesting track lasting under two minutes in which layered voices grow from one voice to two to all of a sudden a whole lot. This is one of the tracks on the album that features Shara Wardon from My Brightest Diamond. "I Used To Do" goes back to the traditional Clogs style of instrumental classical music mixed with some acoustic and post rock. Bryce's guitars are nicely layered and Thomas' marimba really shines as well. Live, this song really stood out. They bring back Shara Worden for "On The Edge," a darker piece. Her voice makes you want to melt. It's quite beautiful. Padma takes over the singing duties on "Red Seas," possibly the most beautiful song on the album. It has a bit of a singer-songwriter feel to it but in a good way. The guitar playing is amazing and the horns at the end make it sound a bit like Broken Social Scene. Everything about this piece makes it shine.
After two very mediocre My Brightest Diamond type tracks comes "Last Song" featuring vocals from Matt of The National. I don't usually care much for his voice but in this song it fits perfectly. The lyrics in this song are very simple, but very nice. The dark, layered guitars mixed with Matt's voice gives you the feeling that your on a boat, stranded with not much of a chance of surviving. The next track "To Hugo" is another instrumental track similar to "I Used To Do." The last song, "We Were Here" is equally as amazing as any of the songs on this album and features Sufjan Stevens on vocals and Banjo and Shara Worden again. It is set in a nice sentiment to end the album.
I've never really heard any music quite like Clogs. It's really interesting stuff. All the songs are written with a certain sense of contentment, darkness and uncertainty that makes it interesting to see what will happen next. It's hard to describe. Listen for yourself, you won't be disappointed.
The Creatures In The Garden Of Lady Walton is available March 2nd so be sure to pick it up at your local independent record store!
-Eliot Larson February 22nd, 2010
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
[8.4, XL, 2009]
Vampire Weekend is no doubt one of the best bands in the indie rock scene. They make catchy, fun, short, danc-y songs that almost anyone who likes any type of music can (and should) enjoy. I was pretty impressed when I first heard VW's music. (Woah, was that 2 years ago?) The jerky rhythm and fun string section to "A-Punk" was so new and interesting to me. Even though VW's self-titled debut came out in January of '08 I didn't actually buy it until July or August of that year. Of course I knew most all of the songs on the album by then from the radio and such but no doubt it's one you should own if you don't have it. This time I had to get "Contra" the day it came out.
"Contra" starts off with "Horchata." it may surprise some fans with all the electronic beats at first, but once you get into the song it's just as fun and catchy and any VW song. And the Marimbas are a nice feature as well. When Ezra sings about the "roots shooting up through the tool shed," the stings paint a picture in your mind of flowers growing. "White Sky" does the same thing. There seems to be a hand-clap sample and some more electronic sounds but is almost as great as track 2 on "Vampire Weekend," "Oxford Comma." Track 3 "Holiday" didn't really do anything for me at first and it has a bit of an annoying surf-y guitar part, but it'll grow on you. Ezra uses auto-tune on "California English," but it doesn't make the track any worse and he hardly takes a breath. This song contains the best VW lyrics to date: Sweet carob rice cake / She don't care how the sweets taste / Fake Philly cheese steak / But she use real toothpaste / Cuz if that Tom's don't work / If it just makes you worse, / Would you lose all your faith in the good Earth?
Taxi Cab slows down the record nicely after the exhausting vocals of California English. "Run" sounds like it could of found it's way on their last album but features a great horn section throughout. "Cousins" is the closest we get an "A-Punk." This is probably the song that sounds the most like the old VW record. But don't be faked out if you have only heard this song, the album is completely different. The end part with the bells is simply quite amazing. (Check Out when they played it on Conan, WoW) Giving Up The Gun is my favorite on the album and is the most accessible for fans of mainstream pop music. There is no guitar, not a real bass or drums (I could be wrong) but just keys and drum machine and brings to mind Afro-Pop. It's very danc-y as well. "Diplomat's Son" is the strangest track on the album. The M.I.A sample is cool as well as the Toots and Maytals reggae classic "interpolation" of "Pressure Drop." I hear some Animal Collective in the electronic sounds at the end too. It's almost like multiple songs in one. The last song "I Think Ur A Contra" is a really great song for the end of the album. Throughout the song Ezra continuously tries to sound too much like Dave Longsteth from the Dirty Projectors (He's good friends with Dave and thanks him in the liner notes) but regardless its a really great song. This album really lacks nothing. It's not as good as the first one but isn't worse at the same time. Rostam's string arrangements are amazing and the production by him is also great. It's really fun to hear Vampire Weekend's music because is so creative and inventive. There is a player below allowing you to play all the full tracks, and trust me, you won't be disappointed.
-Eliot Larson, January 13th, 2009.