Sunday, February 18, 2007

Post-Recreational Paranoia is the Sport of Now

I've almost seen LA rapper Busdriver (real name: Regan Farquhar) live on more than one occasion over the last few years. He used to open for The Unicorns, the short-lived French-Canadian psychedelic pop trio, and joined the group for their even-shorter-lived hip-hop offshoot Th' Corn Gangg. Unfortunately, it never worked out (the only time I did see the Unicorns perform, at the Knitting Factory if I'm not mistaken, the opening act was a different rapper named Subtitle).

His new record, RoadKillOvercoat, has been dominating my playlists for the better part of February. Without a doubt, this is my favorite album of the year thus far. It's pretty much hip-hop, I suppose, but songs like "Sun Showers" and "Go Slow" sound almost like really percussive indie rock songs. ("Go Slow," in fact, is much closer to something like Broadcast than, say, Ludacris). He's one of the few musicians I think could be legitimately compared to TV on the Radio.

Like Beck or Anthony Burgess, Busdriver creates his own version of English from scratch here. Words with absolutely no business together intermingle within his nonsense collages. The title of this post, part of the chorus to a song called "Kill Your Employer," typifies his lyrical style. Absolute gibberish that nonetheless sounds compelling, even deep, under closer consideration.

"Sun Showers" is perhaps the album's least successful track. It's cool, but it does kind of feel like something off of a B-grade Young Liars. On an album defined by genre-smashing and experimentation, t's the only time Busdriver sounds a bit out of his element. "Secret Skin," opener "Casting Agents and Cowgirls" and my personal favorite track, the head-bopping extravaganza of pop sugar "The Troglodyte Wins," which sounds like Fatlip guesting on a Soul Coughing record, are the highlights.

You can grab two mp3's from the album plus some promo videos shot by a friend of my brother's at Epitaph Records. Here's the first promo, featuring "Troglodyte Wins."

The Arcade Fire's awesome new record is called Neon Bible. Here's a link to the official website. It's exceptionally creepy and strange.

I only, um, obtained the disc last week, so I'm still finding my way around. My instinct is to say that it's not quite up to the ridiculously high standard set by Funeral, but that it's a great collection of songs. The band hasn't really altered its sound tremendously. These are more immediate, swelling pop songs about pain, anxiety and loss performed with a eye towards theatricality and lots of strings.

Nevertheless, Neon Bible does mute some of the previous album's spazzy energy, opting for classic rock throwbacks like "(Antichrist Television Blues)," which could have been written by Tom Petty, or piano ballads like "Ocean of Noise" over the first album's more propulsive, glam-rock powerhouses. Right off the bat, opening track "Black Mirror" and the title track find the band in a somewhat more emo, softer mode than the anthemic Funeral.

My one nitpick is the inclusion of "No Cars Go," a mediocre song from The Fire's first album (the pre-Funeral tiny label one) and a staple of their live shows (they've played it both times I have seen the band, at least). The lyrics are repetitive and silly, the music is predictable and not particularly catchy and it's easily the weakest track on Neon Bible. Why keep resurrecting this old song when the songwriting on both of their subsequent albums has improved considerably?

Anyway, I'm otherwise really digging the whole album. Here's a video of the band playing "Black Mirror" at a show in Montreal.

A guy in the comments over at YouTube implies that the song rips off David Bowie's "Changes." I don't hear it...Leave your comments below.

Finally, like everyone else around the Inter-Web, I'm disappointed in the new Bloc Party, A Weekend in the City. These songs just kind of suck. That one, "Prayer," is alright, I guess. But the whole album just kind of sits there. I had to go back and listen to the first record just to remind myself why I had even liked these guys. Not to worry..."Banquet" still rocks. I'm not quite sure what happened to this band, if it's just a sophomore slump or whatever. Maybe they were touring so much that they didn't get around to writing songs until the last minute.

Judge for yourself. Here's the video for "Prayer."

1 comment:

Konrad said...

Hi Lonnie! I was wondering if you have seen Rocky Balboa. Can you recommend it? Konrad