Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Show Your Bones
Forget the stupid haircuts, the tsunamic publicity bumrush, the Squeak E. Clean/Spike Jonze connections, and anything else that might offend your purist indie sensibilities. Just listen: It's all there in the first three beats of the album, a wink and a nod, a salute to their intentions—Show Your Bones opens with a quick riff on "We Will Rock You," and then proceeds to do exactly that.
More flashily produced than Fever to Tell, the YYYs' new one is as infectious as it is hooky, with Karen O's gasp-y phrasings sounding like Nancy Sinatra-via-Iggy and guitarist Nicolas Zinner and drummer Brian Chase keeping things swinging frantically from bouncy to screamy to dance-y to chunky throughout.
"The Sweets" is a nice, sparse throwback to "Hello Tomorrow," the dreamy Adidas commercial that signaled groundswell changes for the band; "Honeybear" kicks off with an almost-electroclash beat before slamming into power-chord goodness; "Way Out" is officially my song for springtime, starting off nice and bubbly and Grandaddy-esque before exploding in a Joan Jett/Beavis and Butt-Head rockathon.
So yeah, you'll be hearing this booming from Urban Outfitters all summer long, but if you let the hype stop you from rocking this one, you're the one losing out, buddy. CHAS BOWIE
Box (5-CD box set)
I used to think White Rainbow was a "gray, rainy day band," a good soundtrack to what you're probably seeing out your window at this very minute. That is, if you're around a window, and in Portland as you read this. If you've somehow time warped into a summer afternoon in, say, Big Sur or Santa Cruz you might be livin' closer to this box set's sunny, mellow, five-hour, 37-track run.
I listened to all five hours in one sitting, and the fact that I didn't stab myself in the heart with a pencil is a good sign. Five hours of most any music is heavy, but this was no sweat, a full-on ambient, chill brain massage. Which is not to say Adam Forkner's White Rainbow is only background music; you could get all headphoned out on this, stare off into the cosmos, and get lost in all the ebbing and flowing and amniotic puddles.
Favorite moment: I've always dug the rhythms made by my dishwasher and dryer and thought they'd play well together in an all-appliance band. Problem being, they're on different floors. Here, with "6-12-05 Holy Fuck," it sounds like Forkner's house has 'em both on one level (and has somehow magically dropped Airwolf's chopper-blade noise into the mix. Even better.)
Now, if you do sit down and give this set some decent attention, you'll see there's a lot more going on than pretty ambience. Shit gets dissonant too; weird squelches blurt out, something that sounds like birds being strangled yelps while a guitar loop flops over like a catfish dragged up on dry land. And there's some wild low-end action too, thick deep bass tones that rattle your teeth and stir up your guts (kinda like OMSI's Omnimax bass noise rumbling through your seat while you watch The Majesty of the Bottlenose Dolphin or some shit.)
A lot of this record, though, is hard to pin down. It comes in abstractions, songs that are more sketches than full tracks, impressionist freakouts, the kind of musical non-music that's too new and uncharted to really break down and get rock critical. (Here are a few notes I took on things the music reminded me of: ice melting, puking on the sly so your friends don't hear you, echoes in empty rooms, food digesting, and crumpled-up paper uncrinkling.)
If you get a copy of this box set, make sure you at least try to listen to it consecutively. It may sound like a big undertaking, but it really isn't. It might actually be good for you to slow the fuck down a while and go off in your head for five hours. Consider it spring break; you may not get drunk and laid, but R&R is R&R. ADAM GNADE
The Flaming Lips
At War with the Mystics
(Warner Bros. Records)
In Sunday morning's wee hours, OPB shows Austin City Limits, which usually affects me like 10 Lunestas and a bottle of Carlo Rossi—but a few weeks ago, the Flaming Lips showed up on ACL, and it was amazing. Wayne Coyne & Co. were onstage with giant balloons and confetti and really powerful flashlights and a gaggle of people in creepy animal costumes, and the Lips were just tearing through shit. They called up Cat Power's Chan Marshall and she played Black Sabbath's "War Pigs" with Coyne—who poured fake blood on his face and wore an American flag as a cape. After that one of the Lips' saxophonist fathers tottered out and everyone did "Somewhere Over the Rainbow"—a song that was written for the singular purpose of making anyone who hears it claw their own eyes out, but here it was excellent.
They followed "Rainbow" with an amped-up version of "She Don't Use Jelly" and an even more amped-up "Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, Part I," and it was all this near-perfect synthesis of emotion and spectacle and music. Sure, it was goofy and aimless, but the fun was so contagious that I thought "Okay, even though Yoshimi only had three good songs on it, maybe their new album can bring it like this." It doesn't. At War with the Mystics is aimless, goofy, and not much fun; instead, there are vaguely political lyrics that carry about as much weight as a whiny trustifarian on indymedia.org, a few ephemeral hooks, and some rambling soundscapes that'd be more at home in Trey Anastasio's barn. It's all a little boring—and in the light of that Austin City Limits, more than a little saddening. ERIK HENRIKSEN
★★★★ Red Rover
★★★ Dodge Ball
★★ Cartoon Tag