I’m just going to use up my snark quota for the whole post right here: halfway through the new Yeasayer album, Odd Blood I thought “Hey, finally, an Animal Collective record I can enjoy!” That’s not exactly fair to either band, though there’s plenty of chaos and giddy whooping on Odd Blood to lend itself to AC comparisons. (I don’t hate Animal Collective, but I was recently trapped in a car with my 17-year-old step-sister and her boyfriend while they circulated through their least accessible, most noise-heavy tracks. It made me realize that maybe I’m too old for this shit.)
All Hour Cymbals, the band’s 2007 debut had muddy production values that made the songs feel just out of reach, but Odd Blood is so crisp it practically reaches through your headphones. It’s nice to actually hear what the lead vocalist sounds like when he isn’t buried deep in the mix. See also: “Tightrope,” their contribution to Dark Was the Night. The album’s front half is the strongest; opener “The Children” promises plenty of avant-garde shenanigans but is immediately contradicted by the catchy single “Ambling Alp.” “Madder Red” and “I Remember” take a dreamier approach, slowing the record down for a bit before ramping back up again for “O.N.E.,” the collection’s second single. Starting with “Love Me Girl,” the album starts to unravel. “Love Me Girl” is all over the place, re-starting several times, but the hyper-focused “Rome” could use more of that kind of variation.
Yeasayer came out of left-field with All Hour Cymbals, and confounded indie rock audiences who loved them despite (or because of?) their decidedly world-music flair. On Odd Blood, the band sounds like they are trying to counteract the squish potential by taking a slightly more experimental approach. The album accomplishes this, without abandoning the new-age eclecticism that defined their initial success.
Listen: Yeasayer — “Ambling Alp”
Buy Odd Blood at Insound
Dent May, that’s who. I mostly wanted to post this to promote a fellow-Oxonian (that’s Oxford, Mississippi, y’all) and an all-around nice guy, although he probably doesn’t need my small shout-out at this point. The other day, Daytrotter put up their live session with Dent May & His Magnificent Ukulele, who plays songs from his album The Good Feeling Music of Dent May & His Magnificent Ukulele (released by Animal Collective’s record label, Paw Tracks).
But I also want to declare a personal beef with May’s comment on the sidebar regarding the song “You Can’t Force a Dance Party”:
This is a “cautionary tale” about trying too hard. I came up with the idea for the song when a group of girls came over to my house with a boombox blasting Destiny’s Child, which sounds awesome I know, but most of the people hanging out were annoyed. The moral of the story is that good times must happen organically.
As one of those girls in question, I’d like to offer my side of the story. My friend M. and I were hanging around at my house when a few of our other pals suddenly appeared on my front steps, grinding to Kanye, Rihanna, etc. At this point, their Portable Dance Party was already well underway — they had hit up a couple other house gatherings before showing up at mine. We all got so caught up in the spirit of our traveling flash mob that we said, “Hey, let’s take this to Dent’s party next!”
I guess we thought the kitschy allure of dancing girls and cheesy pop hits would appeal to the skinny-jeans-wearing crowd over at Dent’s house. But, no. We were apparently cutting into Very Important Activities like crossing and uncrossing their arms, or polishing their novelty belt buckles, or whatever. We took the hint after one song and stopped before they pummeled us with PBR cans and Parliament butts. Apparently, we had broken a social taboo so epic that, even weeks later, I had to endure self-righteous indignation from unhappy hipsters telling me how uncool it was that we just showed up, with our own music, and interrupted a party that was just the way they liked it, thank you very much.
We really weren’t trying to “force” the fun because, you see, we were actually having it. Sheesh. I love you, Dent, but it’s called a sense of humor. As in, get one. (Did I mention that he’s a really nice guy? I genuinely mean that.) But I’m sorry that my friends and I annoyed you so much that you wrote a song about it. Or, wait. You’re welcome.