Hipsters. Who are they? Where do they come from? What do they want? Well, based on six months of intensive research, I've come to the conclusion that hipsters are people in their 20s who live in the Williamsburg area of Brooklyn and have tattoos, piercings and a beard (or, if a woman, dyed hair). The most impressive thing about these hipsters is how easily they can drive non-hipsters to despise them, based on little more than the non-hipsters' own feelings of inadequacy. I don't hate hipsters. They're basically just doing what you and I did back in high school -- dressing up in a certain way in order to affiliate ourselves with a particular clique (i.e. punkers, jocks, preppies, nerds, metalheads, hippies, etc). And why did you and I dress that way? Because we were self-conscious and wanted to be accepted by whichever peer group we looked up to. For me, it was the punkers -- which was asinine because they were fucking morons, but what can you do. My point is that hipsters never outgrew that phase of psycho-social development. Actually, maybe none of us do. But because most of our lives change after we leave school, we generally grow out of the 'gotta look cool' phase and into either a 'gotta look successful' phase or 'got married so don't need to impress anybody anymore' phase. But because hipsters continue to live and work around young people (bars, record stores, tattoo parlors), they are never forced to make that life change. So they don't. I'm not being condescending; I'm just saying that I don't feel hate towards these people the way that so many other 'straights' seem to.
However, that still doesn't mean that I want to listen to their shitty fucking music. And the Yeah Yeah Yeahs EP is nothing if not shitty fucking hipster music, made by hipsters, for hipsters -- with 500 times more concern for 'sounding cool' than 'being any goddamned good at all.' And it is NOT. It is HORRIBLE. Take the blandest and most simplistic garage rock you've ever heard, add a dash of failed artsiness, and hand a mic to some hipster woman who's madly in love with her shitty 'Look how cool I am' voice affectation, and I'LL PUNCH YOUR WHOLE BAND IN THE FACE. And I can do that because I used to be strong, back before I stopped exercising.
The EP has a couple of nice balls-out rock explosions, but what are the odds they weren't just being ironic? Come on, pricks. I'll give you two years to grow out of hipster style and into true musical substance. But THAT'S IT.
The overall sound of this record is independent-sounding but radio-worthy, with creative and Albini-loud basement-sounding drumwork, guitar tones that alternate between bassed-out muddy and high-up pretty, ridiculously overconfident speak-sing-yell vocals and occasional high noises that are either treated keyboards or super-treated guitar harmonics (who can tell in today's technologiKCal dreamworld?). I've seen the band referred to as "art punk," but that phrase certainly would not have occurred to me. Mainly because the record is neither arty nor punky! Instead, it's sort of like what Garbage might have ended up sounding like if they'd hated dance music and Butch Vig was still producing Killdozer -- a messy, distorted, cymbal-crashy mess of basic chords filled with quirky, unrecognizable lo-fi noises and nonprocessed racket.
The true solid melodies of "Rich," "Pin" and the final three tracks deserve to be on a much better album than this. Those five songs are absolutely fantastic. Sad, dark, real, lost, loving, heartfelt, catchy, eerie, filled with snippets of ambient sound, lightly delayed guitar warmth, those weird distorted high noises I mentioned earlier, and even an occasional well-SUNG vocals! "Modern Romance," for example. Why can't she sing like that all the time? Who needs the yelling and "Look at me - I'm a riot grrrrl!" horsepoop? What is this, 1993? Try again, lady! It's 1996, and we don't cater to your kind round here! Now wash my baby!
People will do what people want to do, and people will like what people like. If the Yeah Yeah Yeahs enjoy playing sub-Mitch Ryder garage stomp rock, they'll continue to do so. But at least they toss weird shit in - even their dullest material has crazy-o guitar noises and such-ass way in the background if you listen closely. But you know how I feel about attitude. They've got that fuckin' attitude. Inside their feeble brain there's probably a whore. If they don't shut their mouth, they're gonna feel the floor. Oh PMA. They got that attitude.
In this one song, she goes, "Yeah Yeah Yeah," which I feel is self-referential. Then she goes, "Huh Uh-huh Uh-huh Uh-huh OW! Huh Uh-huh Uh-huh Uh-huh OW! Huh Uh-huh Uh-huh Uh-huh OW! Huh Uh-huh Uh-huh Uh-huh OW!" which I also feel is self-referential because that's how the drummer's name is pronounced in Farsi.
Do you smell something burning?
AUGH! My totem pole!
And I can mostly agree with you when you say you like the last three songs-- "Maps" and "Y Control" are beautiful ("Maps" even made it to the radio and MTV, as you probably know), but "Modern Romance" is one of the most boring songs on the planet. It just... doesn't... GO anywhere!
In conclusion, definitely an 8/10.
BTW, Karen O is half-white, half-Korean.
For me, this was an eight and a heif. "Modern Romance" was like, too slow, too boring, too dull for me. The rest, it's really a great album, relative to what other bands/groups with gals in them are like today (-spits on the Donnas, then on their CDs in stores-). No offense to any ladies who aren't in the Donnas. You just need to separate the whacking tracks from the rocking tracks, and you're good to go.
Anyone who Spin magazine refers to as "one of the most exciting rock groups of the past ten years" has surely been told that their music is boring, trendy, and overhyped.
That's what they said about the Yeah Yeah Yeahs when Fever to Tell came out and...well whaddya know?! Lo, even as they have said it, so it has cometh to pass.
6 out of 10 is good.
1.RICH: I have not done that many reviews so I was taking care of my kira. I have been lazy not having that many Ideas but hey wait till you see my yes reviews! and you mark shut it! ok! starts with a du du du synth bell sound. I tohught huh? like scooby doo! kaern o steps In the mike and yells! rocked!
2.DATE WITH THE NIGHT: SHE SOUND LIKE MINNIE MOUSE ON CRACK! OKAY MAYBE IT DOES BUT HEY 4 THINGS I SAY TO HER VOICE 1. ALREADY MENTIONED 2. LIKE YOKO ONO! 3. HARUKO FROM FLCL. 4 LIKE A CRAZED VALLEY GIRL HAVING A BONER!!! HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!
3.MAN: SOUND LIKE A BOOTLEG.
4.TICK:!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE THIS IS SHRIEKY SHIT!!!!!!!!!!!!! OKAY DON'T BE CRAZY BABE!
5.PIN: BE A PIN CUSHIN FAGGOT!
6.BLACK TOUNGE!: OOOOOOOO HEAR THE WORDS: BOY YER JUST A STUPID BITCH GIRL YER A 10 FOOT DICK!!!!!!!!!!!!! HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA! YA'LL BUNCH A DICKS! HA HA HA HA HA HA HA! TELL EM BABE!
7.COLD LIGHT: THIS IS LIKE AN EP! SORT OF! I WAS STARTING TO GET INTO INDIE MUSIC! FUCK GAY RAPPERS!
8.NO NO NO: STARTS AS A JAM THEN GETS STRANGE! MAN MARK YOU SHUT IT RIGHT NOW! I CHOOSE THIS OVER LIMEY FAGGOT PUNK ROCK SHIT ANYDAY! CALL ME A DICK BUT I NEVER HEARD OF YER GAY ASSED BANDS!
9.MAPS: AH YEAH! THIS IS WHEN SHE SINGS! I LOVE YOU KAREN! DON'T KILL YOURSELF! PLEASE? I BEG YOU! STAY CLEAN. NO WONDER IT IS MY VALENTINE TO MY WIFE!
10.Y CONTROL: MORE WEIRD SYNTHS! A JANGLY MELODIC TUNE!
11.MODERN ROMANCE: ENDING SHORTLY BUT DAMN WE HAD A SECRET SONG TO SLOG THRU! DAMN! OKAY THIS IS WHEN THE LOVELY KAREN SINGS! DOES NOT HAVE TO BE PERFECT BUT HEY WHO GIVES A SHIT!
SPITTING IN THE FACE OF COMMERCIAL SHIT! I GAVE IT A 10!!!!!!!!!! OKAY! YES OR NO?
I agree with the guy who said you need the first ep here. If you're a fan of the 60's Packers you'll walk around the house screaming "BAAAAAARRRRRRRRT SSSTAAAAAAARRRRR! BAAAAAARRRRRRRRT SSSTAAAAAAARRRRR! Doot do doot do doot do do ta doo..."
My written notes claim, "Just good solid music! Some dark songs, some depressed, some happy pop, all guitar-driven, w/some keyboard accompaniment. Good, memorable vocal melodies!" They go on to suggest, "Mostly just chords, but good ones. And decent vocal melodies, though her 'tough girl' vox isn't my favorite style." Furthermore, in a stunning development, they exclaim, "She sounds like Gwen Stefani, but singing to happy or simmering guitar rock." In the endnotes, if one looks closely, he/she may quite well encounter the controversial ad lib, "Lots of good guitar overdubs - acoustic and electric." Those with extensive knowledge of ancient Greek languages might also uncover the cryptic notion, "Good hard-hitting drums too." A man once ran in from the rain screaming that he'd uncovered the mystery of my notes in the passage (written in human blood, on the skin of a goat), "Lots of doubled vox, sometimes in harmony with herself." Then aliens from Planet Xyborgnox unscrambled an orange juice stain near the top right corner and reported to their warlords, "Great variety of raw, fuzzy guitar tones! Synth-tones are kinda annoying though, like dance-pop synth tones." President Reagan jumped on the horn, screaming with hatred and fear as he read to Gorbachev, "Some of the guitar/drum interplay is very reminiscent of the Strokes! (their better stuff)." Finally, zombies took over the world, and noticed that I wrote in the bottom left corner, "Very raw, loud intsrumental tones, like Albini would do."
In short, my notes could be describing pretty much any female-sung guitar rock album of the last 40 years.
Well, let's see - the first three songs are dark and simmering; the next two are yucky and attitude-driven; the following three are happy, poppy, bouncy, warm and wonderful; the next two are depressed and giving of pushback; and the final track is another gleeful song, this time with piano. Only a few songs could be called 'uptempo'; these guys mostly dwell in the tough midtempo beat range. And even when the singer's vocal approach is a bit too "I rawk! And that's how I spell 'rock'!," I greatly appreciate her taking the time to come up with actual vocal melodies, which many of today's top female vocalists (Pink) don't bother doing.
On a related note, I finally learned the title of the worst song I've ever heard in my life. I hear it every single time I go to Arriba Arriba Mexican Restaurant with my wife (2x per wk), and finally I got up the goat to type its lyrics into the Intronet and find out who's responsible for passing such musical gas into the world. Apparently it's "She Will Be Loved" by Maroon 5. If you see them on the street, please, I urge you - MURDER THEM. Next stop: find out who the fucking goddamned GODAWFUL ASSHOLE PIECE OF SHIT is that did that remake of "Is She Really Going Out With Him" - GOD I COULD FUCKING STRANGLE THAT PRECIOUS QUIRKY FUCKING TWIST HIS NECK BETWEEN MY FUCKING FINGERS - SNAP!!! THAT'S HIS NECKBONE IN MY MIND!! SNAP!!!! NOW HERE ARE EACH OF HIS MANY SPINES!!! SNAP! SNAP! SNAP! SNAP! SNAP! SPRA-CRINKLE!!!!!
This album's lyrics are very sort of non-specific and repetitive. Many seem to hint at a young man having left the singer for another young woman, but she surrounds it with vagueries and obtuse abstruseries. A lot of the music's pretty goddamned cool though, if you're good with simple guitar parts like young people might play. Sometimes simple guitar parts are powerful and effective, and that's the deal here. I really quite enjoy the majority of these tracks the way one might enjoy the better garage/early psych songs of 1966 -- I'm vacillating between a very low 8 and a very high 7. I'll go with the 7 only because I personally am not into her voice enough to get super-excited about listening to it on a regular basis. If you like her voice though -- consider this an 8 review!
Sugar Ray. It was fucking Sugar Ray.
"...the excellent cover of 'Is She Really Going Out With Him?,' where vocalist Mark McGrath precisely mimics the tone, timbre, and phrasing of Joe Jackson." - Stephen Thomas Erlewine, All-Music Guide
"the songcraft of Adam Levine and Jesse Carmichael shines through....the sturdy, tuneful writing....overall an enjoyable way to bide time until Maroon 5 can finish their next studio album." - Stephen Thomas Erlewine, All-Music Guide
"In other words, she sounds complex: smart, funny, sexy, catchy, and best of all, surprising and unpredictable....While that's no guarantee that I'm Not Dead will be a bigger hit than Try This, at least it's proof positive that there are few pop musicians more exciting in the 2000s than Pink." - Stephen Thomas Erlewine, All-Music Guide
I don't mean to sound like an asshole, but couldn't Stephen's uncle just start up a new site for him called All-SHIT Guide or something?
It's hilarious that they couldn't find a picture of him that was in FOCUS...
My version of his resume:
* Worked for a student newspaper
* Worked for his uncle's company
But the reasons his views on music are some warped:
"First Record Bought: Juice Newton -- Juice; followed by Olivia Newton-John -- Physical and Hall & Oates -- Private Eyes
First Concert: Huey Lewis & the News, supported by Duke Jupiter, at the Castle in Charlevoix, circa 1984"
Who would admit to all of that even if it was true??????
2.archie bronson outfit
3.sons and daughters
8.kittens for christian
10.six finger satellite(super especially)
no doubt you have heard some of these bands already, and i wouldn't be surprised if you own a few albums from some of these folks as well. this is just a list of suggestions. add them to your pile, i'm sure you get a ton a day.
Just to set the record straight--really, Erlewine's only crime is that he gets PAID for what he does.
My advice: ignore his Pink and Paris Hilton reviews, and focus on the other 99.932% of his work. Dismissing him because of one Pennsylvania skank seems roughly analogous to dismissing Clint Eastwood because of fregging Blood Work. I mean, Christ, people.
That said, I read this site more often. It's funny, and Steve is not.
(I thought of launching a retaliatory schpeel on the Heartbeat City review, but then realized I kind of liked that album too, back in the day. Fie, I say.)
(Also, I'm not one to talk. My first concert. . . ever heard of the Orange County Supertones? No?? . . . Oh. Okay then.)
Regarding your comments on Stephen Thomas Erlewine - I've read a lot of the guy's reviews so I have my own personal opinions on him.
Back when I was a musical n00b, and I used Allmusic guide to find out about how good albums were (not smart, but hey, I was young). Erlewine reviewed pretty much full discographies of bands/artists I was getting into - The Beatles, Dylan, Pavement, etc. And I really loved those reviews, actually. He seemed very passionate about the music and liked to kinda put each album into this nifty historical context for each artist's career. And he seemed to really care about the music, you know. It was refereshing to read at the time, because I tended to agree with him on a lot of points.
Then... when I started to explore a bit more, he got less and less reliable. I think the first time I noticed something was wrong was when I read his Oasis reviews. He was REALLY touting them a bit much with "Definitely Maybe," but when I read his "Be Here Now" review I was just like... wha?? He sucks Oasis's cock and sucks it HARD. I mean, jesus! From the way he describes the album, it sounds absolutely perfect, because he avoids any criticism through over-generalizations and vague adjectives. And he mulls over songs very quickly. He's very opinionated - if he likes a certain band, he'll review an album of theirs that isn't very good and make it sound like a small misstep or something. It's annoying.
He also has some key phrases that he feels the need to repeat constantly. "So-and-so may have made albums that equalled this one, but they never made one better" is used a lot, especially with Dylan. Or calling an album a "holding pattern" (done with both the Clash and the Smiths), or calling it a "stunning statement of purpose" (done with London Calling and several others I've seen). I guess if you've gotta review thousands of albums, you have to generalize a bit and repeat yourself, but still. It smacks of a lack of thought.
Anyway. I don't mind him but I think he generalizes way too much and likes declare songs/albums/bands the best of their genre based on his own personal opinions. Which gets on my nerves.
Nice review, by the way! :P
WIFE LADY: "Who is this?"
MARK PRINDLE: "The Yeah Yeah Yeahs."
WIFE LADY: "They sound like Siouxsie & The Banshees - kinda boring but arty."
WIFE LADY: "Do you like The Yeah Yeah Yeahs?"
MARK PRINDLE: "I do, actually."
WIFE LADY: "Why don't you just shoot up some heroin and move to Williamsburg, hipster?"
Apparently these five songs were written before the last album, but not recorded until after the last album. I've no clue why they were left off of Show Your Bones, because all five are perfectly good songs that, through wonderfully aggressive and arty presentation, are elevated to melodramatic greatness! The YYY's still at times remind me of a rawer Garbage, but now they're also bringing back fond memories of Jane's Addiction at their darkest and artiest. The "Trip Away"-style heavy vocal delay and minimal melodicism of "Rockers To Swallow," the "Of Course"-esque eerie dark drama of "Isis," the "Mountain Song"-genre-sharing powerful hard rock of "Kiss Kiss" and "10x10," the "The Stroke" rip-off of "Down Boy" - yes, these five throwbacks to Billy Squier And His Jane's Addiction perfectly crystallize the stylistic range and instrumental creativity of The Yeah Yeah yeahs without making you sit through a bunch of half-assed garage rock crap like their albums do.
Most intriguingly, I really, really like the way that Karen O performs these songs. Of course she sings well (she always has), but even her screamy songs appeal to me this time, because she sounds less egotistical than unhinged. In "Rockers To Swallow," for example, she sounds like a pissed-off little girl!
I know it's fun to laugh at bands who try to be arty and fail (Tool), but The Yeah Yeah Yeahs (with the help of their producer -- the guy who did The Flowers Of Romance!) have herein crafted quite an effective mixture of raw, loud aggression and cinematic broodiness. I give it a very, very high 8, and hope to Gosh that they can carry this sound over into their next full-length. Seriously, the band's only shortcoming is its acceptance of simplistic material; they're so much better when they try harder (as they apparently do here, on this EP of life!).
Granted, it's no Smilehouse: The Tragic Remains Of An Abandoned Masterpiece by Mark Prindle, but I guess we can't all craft an entire song around the noise that comes out of a dog toy.
Now here's an email that I'd like you to send to everybody in your Outlook address book. Thanks in advance!
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the new EP looks very interesting. it is usually a VERY good sign if Nick Launay is producing (which reminds me - I've never commented on Flowers of Romance yet? What kind of PiL fan am I?! one-sentence review: Flowers of Romance is PiL imploding in a pool of putrescence and bad vibes - and it's amazing!). never thought I'd see the words "Jane's Addiction" mentioned in a Yeah Yeah Yeahs review.
Yes, what was once a band of raw, aggressive guitarists with a female singer is now Pink and her backup synthesizers. This is Girl Music, and not even very good Girl Music. Every single song is 100% predictable, which is what happens when you're a guitarist trying to write songs on an instrument you don't play. And even the best songs (Madonna-esque dark-disco "Heads Will Roll," heartbreaking orchestral "Runaway," and gorgeous ballads "Soft Shock" and "Skeletons") don't do anything new; they're just more melodic than the others. And that single "Zero" can take a fucking hike; when I'm in the mood for "Heart Of Glass," I'll listen to "Heart Of Glass" thanks!
Not that it sounds like "Heart Of Glass," but you see my point.
Sorry about that, by the way. Defective jockstrap.
So why the dramatic stylistic change? Those who believe in the human soul would say that they're following their hearts. I would say they're trying to make their music as commercial as possible in order to escape the indie hipster ghetto in which they're currently esconced. These songs aren't geared toward music fans; they're geared toward people who (a) like to dance or (b) have a soft spot for pretty singing and obvious "emotional" chord changes. And the only reason I'm giving the disc a 5 instead of a 3 is that I fall into the latter category. This is why you should never take musical advice from me; you might end up with a copy of All That You Can't Leave Behind!
Don't be fooled by the excitable album title and egg-squeezing cover photo: a full half of these ten songs are gentle ballads, so if you're looking to get your Dance Boogie out, you'll probably wind up pretty frustrated. Also, it's interesting to note that the only song falling into their previous style -- the ugly herky-jerk guitar rocker "Dull Life" -- is probably the worst song on the record. I wouldn't be surprised to hear it's been sitting in their vaults unreleased since they formed the band.
The record isn't quite bad enough for me to hilariously exclaim, "Yeah, more like It's SHITZ! if you ask me!" But it's certainly a letdown after the inspired art-noise rock of the Is Is EP. In conclusion, here are some of the best dog videos making the rounds these days, in case you haven't seen them already:
Dog Having A Nightmare
Hilarious Peeing Dog