The Rich Girls Are Weeping

01 August 2006

There was a point last night where I thought that today's post would simply be called 'Girl Eats Crow' with a few Birdmonster tracks attached. See, I'd avoided them because of all the hype -- for months. But when a hard-copy of their debut full-length appeared in my mailboxx yesterday, I kind of couldn't avoid the inevitable any longer. Well, after listening to as much as I could stand of their debut album No Midnight last night with Pinkie, that kind of didn't happen. Instead, I totally ended up subjecting her to a tirade on what I feel should happen with bands who bring disparate influences to the table -- as Birdmonster's one sheet claims they do: Classic rock, metal, grunge, and punk, that is. And well, based on the results of No Midnight, Birdmonster isn't meeting my expectations at all.

The members of a band can, and should bring individual elements to the table, sure -- but when they play, it's about presenting a united front. Birdmonster may be all about slapping those polar-opposite influences together, creating an Frankenstein's monster-like abomination of indie rock -- and there's nothing wrong with that. It's just that the band doesn't do so by with some kind of unified vision, and it's here that their debut album ultimately fails.

Look, it comes down to this: No Midnight, though an admirable, self-financed effort (goodness, especially in regards to the packaging's construction and art direction and the fact that some sheer force of will got the album actually recorded and in my hands), it is unfortunately, a huge mess. There's one great song, a few good ones, and a whole lot of stuff that ranges from barely passable to unpalatable filler. It sounds like it was recorded in three days on a budget with a big-bucks engineer/producer (in this case Brad Cook, who's produced and engineered albums for Queens of the Stone Age, among other big names) -- as was the case. The final mix is ham-fisted at best -- you should have seen me trying to find the spot in front of the speakers where it sounded best. (In the end, it never did sound quite right to me.) The songs, overall, feel a little rushed and unfinished, and in some cases, in need of a little editing. There were a few times that I grumbled, "Is this the same song?" as a track made a genre shift for the third or fourth time. At the two minute mark of a particular track, I actually said, "This song is too fucking long!" At the two minute mark. Not a good sign, really.

Look, I lived through the sloppy DIY musical pastiches of the early-mid '90s -- your Dinosaur Jrs, Pavements, and Sebadohs. I didn't much care for them then, and I kind of still don't. Maybe there are people out there who don't care that the band du jour can't decide if its an alt.country band of the old stripe, or a dance punk band of the kind that was popular five years ago, but I require that they at least decide amongst themselves that they're gonna stick to a generally cohesive sound during the course of individual songs. Now, don't get me wrong, I’m not against that kind of thing -- but kids, it only works if your points of departure are strong to begin with -- and well, half-assed alt.country or sub-par dance punk would not be good examples of strong points of departure.

This isn't about not liking a band because it's overhyped -- no, I still save that venom for Clap Your Hands Say Yeah or Tapes'n'Tapes. Clearly, the young men in Birdmonster are more than competent musicians, and they're on their way to being good songwriters, too -- just as soon as a smidge of passion, sex, and nuance enters their realm of experience and filters into their songwriting. And maybe a little more dynamics and balance too. (There's an over-ambitious guitarist, for instance, that really needs to quit with all those neck-bends and stretched strings already.) Because when it works, their sound really works. But when it doesn't, it's a headache-making soup of mismatched, regurgitated influences.

So, revised idea for today's post? Girl eats crow -- for exactly one track:

Birdmonster -- 'Cause You Can

In other news, even though I know you don't want to talk about it, MTV, happy 25th birthday. Guess you can't be on The Real World or Road Rules now, huh?

And, well, because I love you and all... Go play in the street and make some mashups!

Scissor Sisters -- I Don't Feel Like Dancing (Paper Faces Remix)
Scissor Sisters -- I Don't Feel Like Dancing (Paper Faces Remix)
Scissor Sisters -- I Don't Feel Like Dancing (Paper Faces Remix)
(Limited time only -- I mean it this time, I'm only reposting this once!)
(Oh, all right, twice. But this is it! For reals!)
Hot Chip -- Colours (Instrumental)
Goldfrapp -- Strict Machine (Rowan's Remix)

(Also, Fluxblog has a new one from Jeffrey & Jack Lewis that's really fantastic, if you're uh, a hipster that takes the L train, likes Will Oldham, and has a really vivid imagination... Ahh, "indie rock culture." You know that I learned everything I know about The History of Punk On The Lower East Side from Jeffrey Lewis, right? Ok, good, right.)

16 Comments:

Anonymous snoflingor said...

Everything will make sense if you go see Birdmonster's live show Thursday August 24th @ Stubbs in Austin. Epic / Earnest / Sweaty

Tuesday, August 01, 2006 8:50:00 PM  
Blogger FiL said...

Oh Cindy, you call them as you see them with unabashed honesty. And I think that is (and you are) wonderful!

Brava! Brava!!

FiL

Tuesday, August 01, 2006 9:45:00 PM  
Blogger Chris said...

i happen to love this record, but i definitely think that was a fair assessment, and i can totally see where you're coming from.

with that said, i think previous commenter "snoflingor" is right...don't miss them at stubb's. their live shows are sweaty, super fun, and 100% pretense-free.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006 3:25:00 PM  
Blogger cindy hotpoint said...

Guys, just FYI -- endorsing a show as 'sweaty' isn't exactly a selling point in 100+ degree Austin summer heat. I understand what you're getting at, though. They'd better be really impressive live, because I can think of a bunch of other bands I like a whole lot more who also put on sweaty, unpretenious, epic, and earnest shows.

Basically, the only way I'll go to that Stubb's show if someone puts Pinkie and I on the list and possibly also buys us drinks, too.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006 3:56:00 PM  
Blogger J Frank Parnell said...

Well said. Birdmosnter didn't bowl me over with the hype-dripping EPs. They can play, which helps and makes for a nice live show, I guess, but man, find a voice, yeah, or we're left with Strokes impressions like 'Cause You Can,' complete with a guitar line lifted from Chavez. 'Balcony' is just human waste. Awful. 'Spaceman' is an advertisement for running out of time to finish three songs.

This is why care needs to be taken and raving avoided - while 'Resurrection Song' was wonderful, I can think of hundreds of bands who only had one novel in them ...

As for good news, VH-1 Classics is showing videos from MTVs first 24 hours, this week, which despite including all you wish it hadn't (Styx, REO) it includes some wild, completely forgotten stuff, good or bad (PhD) and even the sublime (Shoes, and of course, Buggles).

I once saw Wil Oldham on the street in Hoboken in 1999, before his Maxwell's show. He was pretty fat. And I know someone who, as a kid, tried out for the role in John Sayles Matewan that eventually went to Oldham. He was pretty mad. Think of the life he could've lived. yfenlkmo

Wednesday, August 02, 2006 4:17:00 PM  
Anonymous John Jr. said...

I like your blog. But I think yous got it wrong about birdmonster. There music is all passion and sex and heart and fun. It's fucking rock n roll. Great songwriting and refreshing music too.

Thursday, August 03, 2006 3:30:00 PM  
Anonymous Rudy said...

ace blog btw :D just a favour tho - could u repost the fab scissor sisters track?? thankx loads xx RUDY

Thursday, August 03, 2006 9:16:00 PM  
Anonymous mjrc said...

just got around to the goldfrapp--thanks so much!

Thursday, August 03, 2006 10:21:00 PM  
Blogger wongie said...

if you can repost the scissor sisters that'd be awesome! thanks so much

wongie

Friday, August 04, 2006 2:10:00 AM  
Blogger cindy hotpoint said...

Oy, vey. I'm such a pushover. I've reposted it, lads! xo

Oh, and -- thank you, mjrc. (:

And, lovely, insightful comment there John Jr. -- care to back up your opinion with some cogent throughts, or is that too much? And really, if you think Birdmonster is full of passion and sex, I'm really glad I'm not your girlfriend! :P

Friday, August 04, 2006 1:52:00 PM  
Anonymous Rudy said...

you rock so hard yayayayayayayyayayayayayyay :P thankx from everyone ;]

Friday, August 04, 2006 3:03:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

thank you, thnak you, thank you!!

Friday, August 04, 2006 4:35:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

oh, the remix is tres fantastique!

thanks for reposting!! :)))

Saturday, August 05, 2006 2:54:00 AM  
Blogger wongie said...

darnit
i missed it again!
can you repost?
sorry to keep asking!
xxx

Monday, August 07, 2006 4:51:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for reposting the Scissor Sisters!

Tuesday, August 08, 2006 1:12:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That Paper Faces remix of scissor sisters is amazing. Jacques Lu Cont & Adam Blake come up trumps once again (as always)!!

Wednesday, August 09, 2006 9:06:00 AM  

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