Weekly Album Match-up:
On more inspired/ spontaneous weeks, I’ll like to take it upon myself to organize a music battle between a new album and an old one, to see which one is worth my dough for its place on my esteemed CD shelf, and which one just deserves a casual download into my dying computer’s hard disk, only to be ravaged by viruses one day. (which is not a very productive battle on second thought, the more logical conclusion would be to download BOTH albums.)
But the idea is nonetheless quite fun in my opinion, like a cage match fought with titllating triangle intros and pants-tearing guitar solos . This week’s theme centres around the fact that those in their early twenties have somehow found a time machine device, which they are not sharing with those of us in the early late twenties.
Somehow, somewhere, young kids have caught on the novel idea of writing music that is inspired by a totally different day and age, an exaggerated retrogression to times a lot less modern than today. In other words, music that the Killers would disapprove. And you wonder, how the hell did they gain this comely understanding of the olden times? Maybe its a new marketing thing: BUY A PAIR OF SKINNY JEANS AND GET A FREE TIME MACHINE! You say it’s unlikely? I say, lets lay out the evidence shall we?
Beirut/Realpeople: March of the Zapotec/Holland
There are supposedly two sections in this album, one a decent-enough musing of the old world and the other one a collection of electronic music from the artist. In my opinion, whereas “March of the Zapotecs” is obviously written for the Eastern European immigrant with the handlebar mustache, the other part of the album, “Holland”, is written for the Eastern European immigrant with a handlebar mustache who can speak fluent english.
Beirut a.k.a Realpeople a.k.a. Zach Condon is a 23 year old with the kind of pale complexion, fragile hair and indie crooning that will steal your heart. Except he doesn’t actually do much of the crooning part in the album.
March of the Zapotec/ Holland is an eclectic collection of the romantic musings of Ron Sexsmith with the wild horns/ trumpets and incomprehensible electronic experiments of Sufjan Stevens. Except there is so much more of the wild horns and trumpets.
The first part of the album contains mostly moody, atmospheric pieces, with it’s sturdy “Horns, Trumpets and Euphoniums” sound like a never-ending marching anthem for ancient communists. It does nothing more than to leave an impression, which is to say it’s so boring your bowels may come right out. (edit: it’s actually Mexican, not communist. but sounds like it)
If “March of the Zapotec” is like Zach Condon’s interpretation of Eastern Europe in the early 1900s, then the second part, Holland is the same kind of musings translated by a synthesizer.
I would have classified this album as the type of ridiculous indie effort only 0.5 percent of the music loving population will appreciate (the guy is only freaking 23 years old? marching music for the ancient communists? are you kidding me?)
But Beirut is receiving alot of indie weight from critics around the world, and I have no doubt that there is some serious lyrical depth to his songs. There are also tracks that are really worth a listen, like “Venice”, which sounds like the wavering reflections on the Venice river made into song. And also “No Dice”, the optimisstic album closer like a bright retelling of Kavalier and Clay’s escape into the realm of superheroes.
Free MP3 download from NME:
The Last Shadow Puppets: The age of the understatement
Because this is the older album, I wouldn’t be spending too much time on it. The Last Shadow Puppets is the dynamic duo made out of Alex Turner (of the Artic Monkeys fame) and Miles Kane (of the Rascals who are still not quite famous). Without much doubt, the group could have easily taken the award for the most productive man-crush of 2008.
(Here’s a bit of history, Kane’s old band “The Little Flames” went on tour with the Arctic Monkeys in 2005 when both lads discovered that they share the kind of explosive chemistry that is either for making albums or babies. They chose the former and as a result, we have the Last Shadow Puppets.)
This is the first collaboration between Turner and Kane, and the album is anything but an understatement, for it shows the collosial talents of two 22 year-old British blokes who look like they’ve yet to be de-flowered. Delish!
It’s not too difficult to decipher that the album is inspired by really old, but really good movies of past glamour. There’s the Hitchcock mystery in “The Chamber”, the sexy double-o-seven savvy of ”My mistakes were made for you” and the whimiscal tragedy of Dr Strangelove in “Black Plant”. All this, alongside the glorious Westerns of “The age of the understatement”, “Standing next to me”, ”Only the truth”, and not forgetting the doomed romance of Breakfast at Tiffany’s, as told through “The time has come again”.
Lastly, I’m sure that there is some hidden humour in the way the two have the same hair cut, wear the same kind of pants and sing in the same sarcastic raspy british way that they could have been easily mistaken for twins. An even more amusing possibility is that one had given birth to the other. (Imagine Miles Kane trying to pair up Alex and Alexa Chung, via a “Marty in Back to the future trying to fix his parents up so he could exist” kind of way. I get lost myself, but maybe you get the point. )
We compete, but dude, we really kinda love each other. Alot.
All things aside, if you are not a fan of old movies, then brace yourself for the astounding beauty of the duo’s music during their public date on the BBC.
March of the Zapotec/ holland: DOWNLOAD IT! (it’s not available in Singapore yet, anyway)
The Age of the Understatement: BUY IT!
Two weak knee-d, time travelling teenagers are better than one after all.