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, IÂm 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)
(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.)