02 September 2007

Orange Ball of Hate

All to often an album you've anticipating for months does not live up to the lofty expectations you had for it. Less often an album you've been anticipating for months does live up to the lofty expectations you had for it. But do you know what almost never happens, (to me, anyway)? An album you were sure, totoaly, completely certain that you would have turns out, against all odds, to inspire quite the opposite reaction inside of you. I can only think of two albums that have done this to me, and I'm going to tell you about them.

I've been making a consious effort to change, but the truth is I am not a huge fan of female vocalists. I can list the female artists I truly love in one breath, and one thing they have in common is strong voices. Strong, mature voices. I'm talking Janis Joplin, Mama Cass, Martha Wainwright. I like my female singers to sing good, solid songs. Nothing experimental please. Weird, quirky voices, something I embrace and actively seek out in male artists, I can not stand in female. Joanna Newsom? Can't stomach it. Yoko Ono? I'd rather not.

Enter CocoRosie. They sound like Joanna Newsom imitating Yoko Ono. Or Yoko Ono imitating Joanna Newsom. Experimental, odd, quirky, downright fucking weird. All descriptions fit the two sisters nicely. I knew I would hate their latest album, just as I had their previous ones. Even a glowing plug from John Darnielle didn't make me doubt this.

Then a misclick while browsing in emusic had me downloading 'Ghosthorse and Stillborn' instead of some Of Montreal. Oh, I was pissed. 12 precious downloads, wasted! Or so I thought. Expecting to turn it off after only minutes, I stuck the album into itunes and hit play.

I did not turn it off after a few minutes. I did not turn it off at all. I played it through once, then twice, and then a third time.

I liked the damn album. No, I loved it. And no one, believe me, was more shocked than me by that fact.

What does it sound like? It sounds like pop album. A pop album raised by two loving pop parents, that went to a good pop school, that got top marks in all of its oppy classes. A pop album that fell in with a bad crowd, made some new, exciting friends, and ran away from home to live in a warehouse with a bunch of misfits in New York. The pop is there. But it is draped with coloured shawls of so many others sounds and ideas that at times it is almost invisable. At times it sounds like gospel, at others like a gothic lullabye. Completely unpredictable, even after multiple hearings. I sometimes thing the album warps and changes everytime I look away.


So what's the other album that I should have hated but did not? This one:

Now let's be clear, I do not hate the Beatles. I don't care how cliche it us, they were my first musical love, and I love them still. I have a tattoo of John on my shoulder, and I cried for days when George died. And this is why I was so sure I would hate that album. Some guy getting his dirty fingerprints all over my beloved songs? (Ok, so George Martin's son is hardly "some guy," but I was not in a rational frame of mind when I first heard of this album). Remixing the Beatles? Blasphemy! Never before have I been so certain in my hate.

By now I'm sure you know what is coming. I listened to the album. And I did not hate it. Not one little bit.

This is an album to remind you of why you loved the Beatles in the first place. You hear the songs so often, it's easy to forget how stunning they are. But when you unexpectedly hear the Penny Lane trumpet refrain on the tail end of Get Back, or when the opening notes of Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds start pulsing in and out like a heart beat, or when the music suddenly cuts out Hey Jude and the 'na na nas' come a glourious acappela, or when Being For The Benefit of Mr Kite decends into I Want You (She's So Heavy) and it sounds like what you image the end of the worlds would sounds like, or when the persistent Tomorrow Never Knows beat drives Within You Without You.... Ah. Then, you remember why you love the Beatles so god damned much.

Being For The Benefit Of Mr Kite
Within You Without You

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