The Avalanches

Powerful Force of Nature or Snow Job?

Since I Left You - Sire/Modular 2001
Rating = 5

The Avalanches are a group of vitriolic Australians hell bent on destroying nothing in particular by merging and looping a whole slew of samples into a modern pastiche of electronic orchestral disco. Their palette is filled with cheesy '70s funk bass lines and ELO-style violin swoops, and their paint brush contains some high- pitched vocals, classical Spanish guitar, bird & water sound effects and a few funny samples here or there. Unfortunately, no matter how interesting the garden tools (somebody told me that more than 900 samples are used on this cd), the music all sounds the same, and it's not particularly interesting unless (d) you want to dance, (r) you're a fan of turntablism (a genre I know exactly 0.000004% about) or (i) you just want to sit there and count the samples like the hilarious character portrayed by Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man might do. Each track flows into the next like a naked man flows effortlessly into a clothed man, and no memorable hook ever erupts. In addition, it's mostly instrumental so there's not even any funny Beastie Boys-style lyrics to hold the interest of me, you and a dog named Boo.

GOD, that was a song, wasn't it? FUCK yeah. It TORE then and it RIPS now.

So why review a genre I know Jack Black about? Well, I'll tell you why. Here's why. Because they're new and I want to prove to the kids that I'm one of them and I can get down with it. Even though I can't and I'm at least a decade older than all of them. Nevertheless, I've never much been into electronica - I find it bland, bland, bland and repetitive. If it's your vibe, you should buy this because everybody's raving about how happy, catchy and exuberant it is.

Me, I'm the guy that gave The Guess Who's Share The Land a perfect score.

God Damn you, the kids, for making me look old in comparison! I'd shake my fist at you but my arm is tired!

Reader Comments (Adrian Denning)
This is "dance" music for people that don't dance. Its one sixty minute long listening experience or at least, its meant to be. The very first track, the title song is wonderful for me. 'Two Hearts Beat In 3/4 Time'. The sampled female vocals work well. In fact, there is something for almost everyone here. That is, unless you like guitars of course! Or perhaps... maybe...would like to dance. But, thats not the point! The point is its good to listen to. Using that many samples and stitching them together in the way they have is some acheivement.
Reason #452,983 why I hate Spin and Rolling Stone. Jesus H. Christ this is an uneventful, boring album. I mean, for background music while playing videogames, yeah, it's alright, but there's a ton of better stuff out there for that purpose. Namely, just about anything with guitars in it. The video for "Frontier Psychiatrist" is entertaining, though, even if the song isn't. Maybe I'm old-fashioned, or really used to guitar-driven music, but I just can't get into this group. This shit is way overrated. (Ryan Hennessy)
Prindle dissin' my favorite record of last year? Wow, and I usually agree with your reviews. How guitars make any music more interesting is beyond me. And I don't think any of the songs sound the same. The vibe given off in "Diners Only" (with that oh so clever glass clinging) is totally different from that of the far out space-jam of "Etoh." Although I guess i could see how this could sound all the same to the untrained ear, but they really do fit in everything but the kitchen sink in here. There's even a subtle storyline about travel that the guys didn't want to get too into because it would've been too restricting, but they could've since they have such a library of samples on their hands. Think of it as a mixtape to the world. Think of it as a way to give some dignity back to some of the most degenerate genres of music. I laughed at that Dustin Hoffman commen though. Sometimes I feel like that. "Oh, it's the same sample but they mixed it up! But what was that other sound??" Such a dork am I.

Add your thoughts?

Click here to buy some Avalanches, but be sure to click on the album covers to reveal CHEAPER USED COPIES!

Back to Mark Prindle's Tribute to the Kings of Electronica, Like Loudon Wainwright III and That Guy Who Played Tambourine in the Grass Roots