MUSIC REVIEWS: David Byrne and Brian Eno, Deerhoof, and Jaguar Love
Brewed in the belly of the Bay Area, Deerhoof’s fourth album, Offend Maggie, is a catchy coup d’etat of indie rock–if it can be categorized at all. For starters, the double guitar play by Ed Rodriguez and John Dieterich deliver a veritable rock vibration that seems a rough dance partner for Satomi Matsuzaki’s dainty vocals. However this album is a successful case of ‘opposites attract;’ a hearty balance is struck in this cross-genre mix of jazz, rock, classical, J-pop (Japanese pop), and straight cacophony (at times). Even the noise serves as a supportive backdrop for Matsuzaki’s striking vocals; most of which are often too indiscriminate for even the most astute Japanophile to decipher. Still, listeners will fare well with the play-yard lyrics of “basket ball get your groove back.” Lyrical comprehension or the lack thereof does not obstruct the enjoyment of this musical layer cake.
If you’re looking for My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts Part II, you won’t find it here. Everything That Happens Will Happen Today is nothing revolutionary; as Byrne and Eno tell us themselves on their website, it is simply what happened when years of material from both artists collided and conversed, which is an event we can celebrate. This record is solid and timeless, and doesn’t vaunt its importance or cling to hipster trends. Although the album feels underwhelming at times, the funk rhythms invite us to dance and the lyrics, which teeter in ambiguity between the jaded pessimism of age and the optimism that stems from acceptance, invite us to ponder life’s questions…and to ponder where we put that old Remain In Light record.
In opener “Home,” Byrne sings “Heaven knows what keeps mankind alive,” and the album continues with an ironic torch-song feel, reminiscent of the Talking Heads’ “Road To Nowhere.” The chord progressions are classic and folk sensibility pervades, which also serves to highlight the two excellent exceptions, “I Feel My Stuff” (sounding like Mister Rogers on X) and “Poor Boy” (possibly an old blues dirge from Mars). “Life Is Long” and “Strange Overtones” will quench your thirst for the old Heads sound, while “Wanted For Life” gives you the curious feeling that Byrne is imitating his imitators. Everything That Happens may not be thumping with choppy samplings of other-worldly chants, but what the record lacks in urgency and innovation, it makes up for in catchy refrains amidst turquoise-cool grooves.
Portland, Oregon’s Jaguar Love incorporates the talents of three area men formerly of The Blood Brothers and Pretty Girls Make Graves. Their first full-length outing, Take Me To The Sea, is a decent straight-ahead rocker.
With some punk motifs and rock complexity, the record starts out strong with the poppy “Highways Of Gold” full of drum breaks and power chord progressions behind singer/pianist Johnny Whitney’s blazing falsetto. Next is my favorite song of the album, “Bats Over The Pacific Ocean,” which extols the travails of an eviction and subsequent jaunt to Australia. I really like the acoustic guitar played with domination here, and it’s the driving force behind the song that makes it really strong and catchy. Thirdly, “Georgia” is an organ-laden blues nugget that glides along like a late-summer day.
Overall, it’s a guitar heavy, riff-loaded rocker: think Wolfmother, but more interesting. There are gems in between the static, and on first listen, I really dug it, but I find myself being a little less interested as of late. Still, I’d recommend picking it up if you’re looking for something new and “art rockish” (maybe pop it in at the listening station first).