Poor Things - The Boggs
One of the things that makes the Beta Band's best songs so devastating (yes, devastating, not ironic, not wry, not God forbid, comical) is the friction between Steve Mason's scruffed and shaggy, weary and deadpan voice and the pyrotechnics of instrumentation and sampling, the multi-multi tracked hullabaloo. I've always found that that kind of still point in the middle of maelstrom, that sense of being lost but also safely hidden, yields a strange and unexpected pathos. A curious comfort. The Boggs (really just one permanent Bogg, Jason Friedman, along with friends culled from other combos) go for similar effect and affect here. In this case, various musical motifs orbit Friedman's doped and bemused vocals (especially cool when he casts his hey heys like casual fishing lines, surely knowing he's not gonna catch a thing like that but enjoying the day nevertheless). The plates spinning on sticks include a rhythm section performing something between a jig and a post-Madchester shuffle, growling riffs and puckish picked strings, wood block percussion, bells and "sci-fi" synthesizer sounds--almost all of which play hot potato with the melody, almost all of which urge you to move. Friedman tucks into this immaculate chaos (murmuring something about sleeping and dreams), and lets the music exert the sweaty and satisfying physical and emotional workout.
From Forts (Amazon, eMusic), an extremely fun, consistently exciting album.
It Wasn't Said to Ask - Foreign Born
Foreign Born makes a song of exclamation points, high drama, even emergency: twister touchdowns, ten-car pileups, defibrillated hearts, flashing lights on police cruisers. More than anything, it's music that evokes the hard, hard pow and thump and thwack of teenage feeling, the way it shatters all objects of its attention, the way it makes an ear-splitting noise like no other. Once my adolescent bread and butter, I don't much listen to music like this anymore, but am reminded of how good it is when it is good. How one of rock's roles is crashing catharsis.
From On the Wing Now, due August 21 on Din Mak
Myspace (be sure to listen to the excellent "In the Shape")
... Imagining You - Arizona
The singer's a Jack White pining for his Meg, his after-school friend, his apple blossom. He's tight awkward tucked-in shirt, slicked hair and clutched daisy-bouquet waiting by the bus or next to a broken swing on the playground. Or crouched in the shadow of a maple tree under her bedroom window--even though she's at summer camp for another three weeks. But he's happy in this waiting, knowing that pleasure lies not in the having, but in its anticipation, in its laters. That the actual small shy smile that will greet his small shy gift isn't as dazzling as the fireworks and power chords and pummeled drum kit in his heart.
From Fameseeker and the Mono (eMusic, iTunes)