October 27th, 2010
I don’t have much time today, but it’d be a big fat FAIL if I didn’t mention the Deerhunter show tonight at the Showbox Market. The Athens, GA band is touring in support of their latest album, Halcyon Digest, whose little throwback poster promo idea I fell victim to back in July. The band’s 4th LP is not quite on par with previous releases Microcastle/Weird Era Cont. or Cryptograms, but that’s mostly because the band took a slightly different route this time around. Eschewing the veils of smeared noise and ambient interludes, Halcyon Digest is much more straightforward in its method. “Revival”, “Don’t Cry” “Memory Boy”, “Fountain Stairs” are all fun, soulful pop ditties and the band’s love for that 50s bubblegum sound is tightly tethered throughout. It’s not without it’s weird moments, thankfully, with the noisome, shaky “Earthquake”, the eerie ghoul-pop of “Basement Scene”, and the richest, most emotional song they’ve penned yet: “Helicopter”. Watch the psychotropic faux-claustrophobia video for that one here.
On the weird spectrum, their albums have definitely progressed from more to less, especially when you consider the Rainwater Cassette Exchange EP from last year. Which isn’t to say Halcyon Digest is bad—I quite like it, even if it feels stunted and incomplete. Deerhunter’s shows can also be, uh, contradictory. I’ve seen them their last three times through town, with varying results: The Microcastle tour back in November of 2008 was exquisite and their set at the Capitol Hill Block Party in July of 2009 was hamstrung by technical difficulties and a general lack of concern. They took the cake, however, during their show with Spoon back in April (which I never did a write up for). They ended up pissing off a lot of middle-aged Spoon fans by playing the Moore and not giving a fuck. The crowning moments during that (wonderful) train wreck were sometimes-guitarist Whitney Penny coming on stage to tackle and tickle Bradford Cox mid-song, and a 20-minute “version” of “Wash Off” that Cox altered the lyrics for and related to Cobain’s death anniversary. Cox was 27 at the time, the same age Cobain was at his death, and Cox couldn’t believe the irony that he was playing in Seattle at the age and on the date his hero died. It veered off into uncomfortable, ranting-about-grade-school-bullies territory, and completely deflated the crowd. Except for the few of us who stood and applauded afterward.
I’d also like to recommend getting there early tonight for Real Estate. I reviewed their s/t album earlier in the year:
If I may gush, “Fake Blues” is my absolute JAM right now. I simply can’t get enough. I replay it, and then I replay it, and then I switch to “Beach Comber” (my other absolute jam right now) and then replay it again. The former is a peppy and ironic take on a classic formula, Courtney confessing that he’s really got no business writing the blues. Life is good. The up and down rhythm of Matthew Mondanile’s high pitched Strat is hypnotic while the deep “timpani” drums gallop in the background. The latter is thoughtful twang, easy and breezy, gussied up for a waltz-y shoreline jaunt and laid out in the sand to bake. The album isn’t all catchy ditties, though, as the foursome wanders in and out of its own bliss to explore their tunes with a mature naiveté.
I also caught ‘em at the Block Party this year, and I can’t wait to hear what new stuff they have up their sleeve(s). So incredibly stoked!