Wednesday, April 15, 2009

In Which I Pat Myself On The Back For Being The Last Indie Kid In The World To Listen To New Pornographers.

Two Day Old Shit isn't just a classic Phife Dog line; it's also a way of appreciating music. Something new, or something garnering a lot of buzz, isn't always worth listening to. Waiting on something, sleeping on it even, brings pretty great rewards. For one thing, you can be sure you're not being sold a band solely on the basis of their cool factor. But the best part is discovering a new band, and then realizing they have a slew of albums for you to work your way through. That's a good feeling. Call it the Two Day Old Special.

So here's a quick roundup of some things I've slept on. They're not new, but they're probably better than anything that's come out so far this year. And for better or worse, they were so buzzy when they first came out, I couldn't give them a fair shot 'til now.

New Pornographers: My interest in the New Pornographers was piqued late in the game by an interview with Neko Case on Sound Opinions in February. Greg Kot asked what influences Case saw in her new LP, Middle Cyclone, another quality-yet-middling release from the alt country honky tonk queen. "The New Pornographers were a really big influence [on this record] in that they will have no less than five people singing at a time, and it's really gratifying--it's a super sugary cheap fix, and I can't help but want to do that. [...] Playing in that band is a huge influence, because it feels great to sing like that." It sounded like maybe the New Pornographers were a band I should be listening to instead of trying to make myself like Case's solo records. You know how it is: every Neko Case album that comes out, you try to listen, but it's a little boring about halfway through and even though you want to like it because she's a badass with a truly great voice and a top notch sense of humor, the songs kind of blend together and you don't really care about what she's singing about? Well, in the New Pornographers you get enough of the gal to satisfy your Neko craving, but the crew keeps things moving in a way that Case's solo albums never have for me. There are a ton of interesting personalities in this band, and they each bring their own flare to the table but they're still a band. It's not a case of competing personalities, but the whole is definitely greater than the sum of its parts. It's some of the strongest indie pop I've heard in years, and I'm kicking myself for not listening for so long. Twin Cinema is a good place to start, and I'm also digging their most recent, Challengers. I'm sure the other records are pretty good too.

Metric: Until my girl Claire dragged me to see an Emily Haines solo show, I always thought of her as "that woman in Broken Social Scene who isn't Feist." But she was so live, so charismatic and cool and together at that show that I began to think I should check out her work with Metric. Their new LP Fantasies is new school new wave, with lyrics ranging from the personal to the political. I don't know if I think this is a great album yet, but it's very good, and I'm looking forward to diving into the rest of their catalog.

The Avett Brothers: Holy hell, where has this band been all my life? I cannot stop listening to this North Carolina string band. I listen to it on the train, at my desk, cooking dinner, and cleaning up the apartment. It really feels appropriate for everything, especially now that the weather's getting a bit nicer. It's springy music, and while musically its a throwback, lyrically it runs the usual indie gamut from love songs to confessions of intense anxiety. Check out Emotionalism or Mignonette; I can't really vouch for the others. If finger picking and banjos are the kind of thing you're into, trust me on this one. You will love the Avetts.

The New Pornographers [eMusic]
Metric [eMusic]
The Avett Brothers [eMusic]
Neko Case interview [sound opinions]

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