Hello friends. Whilst listening to music today (Pavement’s Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain and Vampire Weekend’s self-titled), I realize that the three bands I’ve been most in love with, as of late, are permutations of the bands that I’ve always loved a great deal. I’m not THE biggest fan of saying, “Oh, they sound like Band A meets Band B,” but really, these three bands work rather well for the process.
And no, I’m not writing this because I just saw them live. Stephen Malkmus (Ex-Pavement frontman, and the same bored looking fellow on the far left in the first photo) and his merry band (including ex-Sleater-Kinney drummer Janet Weiss) The Jicks, to me, have just released their best album, next to Face The Truth. The Jicks have been around for a few years, and are a well-established band, and have been making Pink Floyd-esque nerd rock since their creation.
Pavement are essentially the best band of the 90s, and the fact that Malkmus continues to make music is a testament to the willpower of a great bandleader who isn’t ready to shut the fuck up. And, to be honest, I don’t think it’s his time to shut up, with an album like their latest, Real Emotional Trash. With its breezy fretwork and its strange pop sensibilities, Real Emotional Trash is sure to be well-remembered in the future, and for good reason.
Let’s go over the basics of the band: this merry band of sweater-vest wearing pop dorks met whilst attending Columbia University, and derive their sound from listening to way too much African pop music and a heavy dose of Western classical music. They’ve been named the best new band of the year by Spin magazine, and are the first band to be photographed for its cover before even putting out a record. Proof that the internet is sometimes a wonderful thing, Vampire Weekend has gained a nice amount of popularity due to the wildfire that is blogging.
The band is essentially what would happen if The Ramones decided it was high time they did a collaborative record with Please Please Me-era Beatles: poppy to the max, but strangely, somehow, a bit punk. I don’t ever like trying to predict what band will become absolutely massive, but if I were to pick one and one alone, it would be this one, based on the steady following that the band has gained and, of course, a recent performance on Saturday Night Live, which is certainly enough to propel you at least a small amount. Mark my words, folks: these boys, given time, are going to be just as big as any of the bands that we (and most likely they) worship.
Another example of how blogging can propel a band to superstardom, Welsh band Los Campesinos! (and yes, the exclamation is part of the name) started by posting demos on MySpace, and helping to propel things by posting about the demos on British review site (and essentially the British answer to Pitchfork). By the time their debut was released on February 25th, people were more than aware of the band’s presence.
Mixing clever lyrics with twee (as fuck) pop sensibilities, Los Campesinos! album Hold On Now, Youngster… is a perfect example of “a grower”: though it may be a little bit rough and overly-poppy (and, quite frankly, absurd) at points, given time, the album becomes something that you feel almost compelled to listen to. It’s as if someone told Stuart Murdoch (Belle & Sebastian) to man up already, and what he came up with was Hold On Now, Youngster… By all means, give this band a chance, and you certainly won’t be disappointed.
Video: Los Campesinos! – “Death To Los Campesinos!”