Bite Their American Bytes, Hot Chip
Divine Fits: A Thing Called Divine Fits (Merge)
Before we proceed to the principals, give it up to garage-punk drummer Sam Brown, who does more than Handsome Furs/Wolf Parade yeoman Dan Boeckner to blast Spoon's Britt Daniel out of his self-contained art-funk bubble. Although the songwriting is split evenly, most of the lead vocals go to Boeckner, one of many recent singers to make straight-leaning rock seem duller (Handsome Furs) or sillier (Wolf Parade) than need be. Not good, you might think. Only soon you realize how much Daniel's spiky synths, still the strongest presence musically, benefit from Boeckner's adherance to emotional convention (and Brown's drumming). Never has Spoon conveyed so much heft or breathing room. In short, this rocks differently in a year when it's been hard to use that verb without reflecting on the mortality of all things. A MINUS
Yeasayer: Fragrant World (Secretly Canadian)
Most of the time you can half make out the lyrics and then occasionally parse them too‑-whaddaya know, "Reagan's Skeleton" is about the election, sort of, and neither "Longevity" nor "Henrietta" would mind if it died before it got old or reached 100, whichever came second. But I only made sense of this album when I decided to enjoy its sonic trickerations the way I do African music in which the verbal sentiments might compromise my pleasure if I knew what they were. It's not a groove record, that's for sure, but it has some bump and even funk to it, a dark density years away from the evolved Depeche Mode of the proudly proggy Odd Blood. And almost every track offers up at least a snatch of melody you're always glad to hear again. B PLUS
Oh f**k yeah, when they were on, Babe Ruth fit Greg's "power chords and syncopated beats" requirement spectacularly.
Oh yes. Lots of side-long epics chez disco. Alec R. Costandinos is the biggest practitioner/offender here with his disco operas of Romeo & Juliet, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, and Judas Iscariot/Simon Peter. And any progger would get a b0ner (or whatever they get) for his The Synchophonic Orchestra Featuring Alirol and Jacquet. Check these titles:
2. The Rite of King Gymenaud
3. Pontius Pilate
1. For Amusement Only
Oh man, there are masterpieces of schlock I really get into; "Owner of a Lonely Heart" isn't one of them. Ugh.
Now that I think of it, Lou has always been an art rock singer. John Cale had his prog side too. Maybe there is more overlap than at first glance. "Free Form Guitar" off Chicago's first album, still Chicago Transit Authority at that time, was early Metal Machine Music, which is its own form of prog/art.
There, that's six. Hope I'm redeemed.
Not for me. Boy, when I don't like something, I really don't like it.
Somehow Jack White comes to mind again.
After I sent this I realized it covered electric Miles, guitar-based Ornette, Sonny Sharrock and early John McLaughlin. Makes it Big Fun by def'n.
"Owner of a Lonely Heart"?
Semi-wild @ss prediction for tomorrow's reviews -- Patti Smith and Bob Dylan.
Well, definitely check out Can up to Future Days when crickets took over the Brownian motion. Less syncopated are Neu! and Faust but they still still ricky tik forward with that motorik beat.
As much as I despise prog, there are waaaaay worse cuts than "Roundabout." "Roundabout" actually cooks. Planet Earth wouldn't sound so hopeless in that instance.
Also check out The United States of America's "The Garden of Earthly Delights" which bashes like rock and roll oughta (although I get lost across the full length). That silly billy Joe Carducci digs them so you KNOW they cook.
Another: Hawkwind. Isn't much of their music just one or two power chords repeated ad psychedelium?
Forgot about prog + hip-hop! Chuck Eddy called De La Soul's debut "prog hop." But much as I adore him, he can be an even sillier billy so I'd proceed directly to the Def Jux roster for prog hop. And unlistenable stuff like The Shape Shifters. Maybe J. Beez wit the Remedy too.
I saw Chuck over the summer and when I mentioned that Beyoncé's "Countdown" was my single of the century so far, he got snippy because he thinks that and much of Destiny's Child's music is prog for people who ought to like prog. So how far can we taffy pull prog? Kelis? Janelle Monáe? Electrik Red?
Is "harmonice" The Nice's version of harmolodics?
about the blogger
Starting in 1967, Robert Christgau has covered popular music for The Village Voice, Esquire, Blender, Playboy, Rolling Stone, and many other publications. He teaches in New York University's Clive Davis Department of Recorded Music, maintains a comprehensive website at robertchristgau.com, and has published five books based on his journalism. He has written for MSN Music since 2006.
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