Slash. Hamlet. Bowie. Vertigo. Nas. Goodfellas. Tupac. Sometimes, one word is all you need to make a lasting impact. This week’s New Noise looks at new releases by bands of few words — bands who gave their four-minute melodic visions a single term of endearment.
Though the names might be short, the tracks are filled with layers of musical arrangement, with appearances made by a gospel choir, a couple bands of the nostalgic past and a hunk of reggae meat in a punk sandwich.
Yeah Yeah Yeahs: “Sacrilege”
The members of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs have always had a unique quality to them that has made them stand out. Maybe it’s their divinely perfect meld of new wave and post-punk elements or their mysterious personas that add to the charisma.
“Sacrilege” is off the band’s upcoming fourth album Mosquito, which is to be released next month, and the song is in top YYY form. Produced by Dave Sitek (TV on the Radio) and the prolific Nick Launay, the song goes hardcore with the religious theme, featuring a full on 24-piece gospel choir backing up the inimitable vocals of Karen O.
Most YYY songs sound like they were made by mining up a gemstone, roughing it up with a sledgehammer and then spinning it on a record player — it might be roughed up and distorted, but it’s still beautiful.
“Sacrilege” follows in this manner. The whole song is a stretched-out crescendo, beginning with a murmur and ending with a dramatic windup. The gospel choir definitely kicks things up a notch and gives the song an almost somber tone. It’s almost like the art-punk version of the Stones’ “Gimme Shelter.”
The more you play this track, the better it gets. What’s real sacrilege is trying to find something wrong with this song.
Is Paris Burning: “Wild”
Keeping in the post-punk vein, Is Paris Burning is a brilliant new addition to the shoegaze indie revival of the past few years. The trio formed in Kansas City just last year, but it has already managed to seamlessly capture an authentic late-’70s U.K., post-punk sound. Influences for the group seem to come from all over the globe: the band credits U2, The Smiths and The Maccabees as inspirations, and the band’s name appears to be taken from the Gore Vidal-penned 1966 film Is Paris Burning? about the Paris liberation of 1944. Fitting because the songs sound like they could be off of New Musical Express’ 1986 edition of C86. The band is totally DIY, and its first official single, “Wild,” is reminiscent of Joy Division even down to the lead vocals, which sound like a cross between Morrissey and Ian Curtis.
The jangly guitars lead the song by the nose and create a vibe that makes you want to dance while scrutinizing your shoes. Fans of Joy Division, Ikon and New Order will definitely dig the darkwave sounds of Is Paris Burning.
Sometimes a band has a song or a sound that is very similar to another band, yet it manages to do such a good job of recreating that style in a song that it gets away with it and still seems authentic.
Heyrocco is one of those bands, and “Elsewhere” is one of those songs.
It wouldn’t be a far-off assumption that the composition instructions of “Elsewhere” are on page 213 of the widely popular How To Sound Like The Strokes: Part I. In all seriousness, The Strokes is one band from the last 15 years that is completely underrated, getting virtually no credit for all the bands, scenes and music styles that it spawned and/or revived.
A lot of imitators came out after The Strokes, but few managed to have the “it” quality that The Strokes did. Though some groups evoked eye rolls and gags because of their blatant Strokes derivation, some bands were able to pull off the sound and make it their own, and “Elsewhere” is a song by a band that does just that. The track is upbeat and peppy, with the Strokes-style guitars that follow around the lead singer’s melodies like a hungry puppy.
As much of a Strokes byproduct the song may be, however, “Elsewhere” is still a solid track. The song sounds like the soundtrack to springtime and the South Carolina band (the real SC!) pulls off tight melodies and strong arrangement.
There’s a fine line between inspiration and imitation, and so far Heyrocco is walking that tightrope well.
Point of View: “Burner”
San Jose’s Point of View has been around since last year and its new song “Burner” is off of the band’s upcoming EP of the same name, set for release on March 29.
The South Bay band has a pop-punk sound that is redolent of the early Fat Wreck catalogue and old-school Green Day. The band mixes good old-fashioned punk rock with some ska tendencies to shake things up a bit, and lead singer Billy Bragg sounds like he could be Billie Joe Armstrong’s cousin, the resemblance is so strong. One unique element of “Burner” is that the track maintains the beat while changing tempos throughout the song, keeping things interesting and less predictable. Though this approach could easily backfire and wind up being annoying, it ends up working for this song.
Mixing ska and punk is like mixing a gin and tonic — you need the right elements and the right amounts if you want it to be deliciously refreshing. And when it’s not done well, you feel like retching it out and demanding your money back.
So far, Point of View has been serving up some pretty tasty mixes. If you’re feeling like some Suicide Machines-on-downers, Point of View is right up your alley.
Rishbha Bhagi is a graduate student pursuing a degree in communication management. Her column “New Noise” runs Wednesday.