Setting Up Shop
Had a few Honorable Mentions to post but decided to hold off until I have a few more polished and confirm a few others that waver between B+ and A-. One of these albums sneaked up on me, a piece of indie curio I’d written off as hardly noticeable save for one good groove track. (It’s “Would That Not Be Nice,” by the way.) The other is a band I’ve followed since its inception, one I’ve admired though only ever watched from afar. Local Business is their first I find to be really playful. Heavy with the gloom? Stickles always is. Give you a good laugh after the cynicism’s gotten stale? Stickles always does.
DIVINE FITS – A Thing Called Divine Fits (Merge): One from Spoon, another from Wolf Parade/Handsome Furs, and the drummer from some band named New Bomb Turks hardly constitute what I’d call a “supergroup,” a title usually reserved for “disasters.” Apart from never having heard of one of the bands, only indie obsessives will recognize Wolf Parade’s Dan Boeckner (who can’t be Win Butler but can record in his church-studio), and despite over a decade in the biz, Spoon’s Britt Daniel isn’t famous enough to headline 10,000+ venues, only open for Arcade Fire. Meaning the label springs from a sect beneath the mainstream’s radar the way most hip kids prefer and the trio has little to lose considering their virtual non-success in their day jobs, an incentive to take risks. Biggest surprise is unknown Sam Brown’s rhythms holding down Daniel’s synths and Boeckner’s words (and their egos), making them work out of a beat contradictory to their usual top-to-bottom management style. Littlest surprise is that it doesn’t sound all that risky, just good. A MINUS
TITUS ANDRONICUS – Local Business (XL Recordings): In which Patrick Stickles’s personality crises manifest as futile fighting against the system and shrugged-off suspicions he’s losing his marbles. Channeling their inner New York Dolls, they bring the punk but also offer their most rock ‘n roll album, piano scales and blues breakdowns included. “I heard them say the white man created existential angst,” he declares early on, “When he ran out of other problems.” Local Business is full of it, but not because Stickles has solved all the others. So he wonders what gives him the right to complain about his eating disorder when he’s lucky enough to have food on the table, or how he can muster the gall to lament his white suburban prison when “I know some kids who’d kill for this kind of cage,” or that someone so goddamn serious can crack wise and drop advice to hipster ideologues who see themselves as unique in history: “Try to swallow while you’re still young / Your dick’s too small to fuck the world.” A MINUS