Archive for the ‘killer crane’ tag
One of the biggest reasons I loved Bon Iver’s first album, For Emma, Forever Ago, was the unedited, in-person experience he was able to capture in the studio. With a mostly sparse instrumentation consisting primarily of guitar, piano, and often gorgeously harmonized vocals, the album presented songwriting whose low-fi, laid-bare style worked in its favor, for a change. When I heard it for the first time I got the sense that I could have been listening to a songwriting prodigy (which, I think it’s safe to say, Justin Vernon is) playing out a tune for the first time on the living room stand up piano. In the best way, there were ample strains of CSNY and Tom Waits.
To my great delight, he’s just released the first single, “Calgary,” from his upcoming self-titled album. It features a more deeply produced, synth-laden sound – inspired, perhaps, by his time spent writing with Kanye West? I think it works fantastically – it touches on some of the aspects that made TV On The Radio’s latest album so good, especially the song, “Killer Crane.” At the same time he doesn’t seem to have sacrificed any of his original appeal. For your streaming pleasure:
Calgary by Bon Iver
TV On The Radio’s newest release, Nine Types Of Light, hits you with a sustained burst of positivity. It’s got a lot more upbeat funk-rock beats than their previous work, punctuated here and there with catchy, sometimes symphonic horn sections. To be honest, I didn’t quite know how to feel when I first heard it – it was the avant-garde track “Ambulance,” after all, that caught and sustained my attention in the first place. Was the band selling out? (insofar as that means anything – I don’t think there’s anything wrong with making popular music, so long as it’s good) Had they given up pushing themselves and breaking boundaries? Here’s the thing, though: what they’re putting out still feels genuinely new. Nine Types Of Light is memorable rock, pure and simple. At its best it’s more than solid – it’s even extraordinary for moments. They’re what I wish U2 would be.
The mood of the album, while still containing stretches of the experimental (“No Future Shock,” with its bold harmonic and textural changes, is a particularly apt example), speaks of songwriters who are settling into themselves, not only as musicians but as people, too. There’s a sense that they went out, explored (they did indeed release solo albums, Kyp Malone’s being a standout), and finally came back, grounded. There is the expected to-and-fro between Tunde Adebimpe’s free-floating, introspective ballads and Malone’s funk-driven flavor, but it’s not as grating a contrast (which, in some people’s mind, could be a bad thing) as it was on Dear Science. Sometimes I did yearn for a bit of the more out-there stuff that had me fall for them in the first place, but they replace it with an energy that’s infectious. They demonstrate once more that they’re one of the few bands actually willing to fuse rock and funk with, well, what looks like anything that comes into their heads. The ballad, “Killer Crane,” is an Arcade-Fire-at-their-best-esque track, and at this point is probably my favorite. It’s genuinely beautiful. But with more listens, that will probably shift to another song – perhaps the catchy “Second Song,” or the crazy anthem “New Cannonball Blues,” which comes complete with touches of Of Montreal (you know, back in the Hissing Fauna days).
I can’t help it – I really like what TV On The Radio has released here. There are touches of Yeasayer, Radiohead, Byrne, and Bowie, along with a few memorable funk-ish stretches, but to their credit, more than anything else it’s a TV On The Radio album – original, beautiful, and occasionally epic.