Archive for the 'Muscles' Category

Nerdbound’s Somewhat Belated Top Albums of 2007

January 18, 2008

2007 has ended, and with it, I’ve lost my chance to listen to 2007 albums while they’re still fresh and new. This is a problem because 2007 was a year packed with music in a way that many recent years haven’t been. It felt like almost every top band in independent music (broadly construed) had an album that got released this year. It was my first year really attempting to track down every release I thought might be interesting and listen to them all. I failed, but it was a noble effort.

So I’m going to jot down my top albums of the year. There are a few caveats. For one, this was one of the strongest years in recent memory for metal, yet I did not get much metal onto this list. My listening habits have changed, and metal releases that would ordinarily have enthralled me seemed more distant this year. Additionally, the year was so strong for independent rock, that even fantastic metal releases did not make the cut.

Further, this is all just my opinion, and my opinion is biased by a love of experimental shit and angry motherfuckers. There’s a variety of stuff here, including some pretty twee pop, but that’s the exception not the rule. Of course, I would argue that I’m right to enjoy experimental and badass music. But some people don’t and they should not hate me for this.

Without further ado… Read the rest of this entry »

Muscles – Guns Babes Lemonade

November 7, 2007

Muscles - Guns Babes LemonadeYou know that Art Brut song “Emily Kane” about how the singer is still in love with his middle school crush? It’s pure unchained irrational exuberance (thanks, Greenspan) about naivete: Holding hands, thinking crushes will last forever — you know, sunny emotions, happiness, that shit. Somehow, Muscles has found a way to distill those things and stretch them out over an entire album. Well, actually the mood varies a bit more than that. But in general, the songs are about: ice cream, dancing; holding hands; ‘peace, love, ecstasy, unity, respect’; seizing the day; and having Muscles’s babies. Essentially, if the LCD Soundsystem wrote the great electronic/dance album about being old (nostalgia for old friends, love for New York), Muscles have just written the great electronic/dance album about being innocent. Perhaps just ‘a’ great album because there’s more competition (think Daft Punk: “Digital Love”). But it’s a damn good album.

The music uses synthesizers, but the memorable compositional thing is the use of vocals: Background voices yelp and glide at high pitches, with nothing close to ‘good’ singing technique; calls are responded to; vocal bits circle in and out of the mix; and the frontman yells his heart out at the top of the mix, sounding like he’s continually exhausted but orgasming. It’s so charismatic that it almost hides the artistic worth of the underlying material. And yeah, after all that discussion of the music’s mood and fun, I do need to mention that it’s seriously artistically valid. Jarringly so, in fact: You can tell it’s an indie-sort of record by the fact that things like ‘harmony’ are often seemingly ignored: Willful dissonance is not often associated with dance music, but here it’s brilliantly done. And as I say, the sheer charisma means you might not notice.

The best track is “Sweaty”. It’s hard to mention all the stuff that this track does right. The big shit is obvious: Both ‘peace, love’ etc. and a big refrain about holding hands with someone special are used successfully and will not make you barf. It’s unbelievably charismatic. And you could hypothetically dance to it, although it has totally the wrong emotional content and comes off as unbelievably irritating on the first listen… Anyway, the details are awesome too: Somewhere deep in the mix are tinkling synths waiting to be loved. And it’s SO dissonant. I love the way that the voices speak naturally, as though there are no notes that they’re trying to reach. Sometimes they’re hitting notes that fit the key of the surrounding music. Sometimes they aren’t. What, you care?

Hype Machine: Muscles

posted by nerdbound