Thursday, February 04, 2010

Quizzical Graffiti

Musical virtuosity doesn't seem to count for much in the indie rock scene. It is valued more in genres like jazz, bluegrass and metal. Dexterity and speed are impressive, but feel is equally important (though less quantifiable). On the debut album by Them Crooked Vultures, the sense of pleasure is palpable in the collaboration between Josh Homme, Dave Grohl and John Paul Jones. The three are masters of their respective instruments, and the grooves are lock-tight. I really liked the last two albums by Queens of the Stone Age, but they were missing the rhythmic drive that pushed Josh's twisted riffs to the classic heights of "No One Knows" and "Go with the Flow". (If you are a QOTSA fan, or a fan of Mark Lanegan's vocals, check out "Death Bells" and "Unbalanced Pieces" by the Soulsavers. These two songs from the 2009 album Broken rock harder than the last Soulsavers collaboration with Lanegan.)

I don't listen to a lot of metal, but I enjoyed the 2009 albums by Georgia bands Mastodon and Baroness. I think Baroness'
Blue Record is the better of the two. Blue Record is ambitious but tighter than the sprawling Crack the Skye, and John Dyer Baizley is a better singer than either Troy or Brent (who does a pretty good Layne Staley impression on "Oblivion"). Kylesa's Static Tensions was powerful in small doses, but a bit of a chore to listen to from start to finish. Kylesa is a crusty Savannah metal band with two singers and two drummers. Not quite as awesome as the double drumming of Dananananaykroyd (which isn't really a metal band, but Hey Everyone is both heavy and exhilarating).

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2 Comments:

At 2/05/2010 12:24 AM , OpenID spanghew said...

I think that's starting to change a little bit. Witness the success of Dirty Projectors - their singing is jaw-droppingly impressive technically, and there are some mighty finely picked guitar lines in there too. Or even someone like Annie Clark (St. Vincent): she's clearly no slouch on the guitar, and some of her parts are fairly virtuosic. (If that's a word...)

 
At 2/05/2010 9:18 AM , Blogger jonderneathica said...

Virtuosic indeed, my dictionary tells me. That's interesting: those are two performers I have ignored. I was grateful to you for recommending the School of Seven Bells last year, so maybe I should check out St. Vincent and the Dirty Projectors.

 

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