Two good bands:
!!! (pronounced Chk Chk Chk) is an electronic rock/dance group that puts out some gritty, groovy stuff. The two techno-ish guys that I played with a couple weeks ago referred me to them. I just got the new album, Louden Up Now, which is pretty good. Hello? Is This Thing On? is like a punk disco rock dance track complete with sleigh bells! Me and Giuliani Down By the Schoolyard (a true story) continues with a simple yet infectious groove layered with cowbells and confusing lyrics. It's Bowie-inspired delayed guitar licks fade in and out, but the driving beat really carries the song for a good 9 minutes.
!!! is playing Wednesday at the Middle East. Even though I'm not into dancing, I might go. These guys are too weird to miss.
The band that I'm even more interested in than !!! is Air from France. If you can imagine a less depressed, sometimes-downright-happy version of Pink Floyd (particularly like the Meddle or Wish You Were Here albums), then you might sort of have the idea. I first discovered Air from the Lost in Translation soundtrack. Even though Air contributes just one song, "Alone in Kyoto", some of the other songs are credited to Brian Reitzell, an Air collaborator.
The next stop was Air's soundtrack for Sophia Coppola's debut film, The Virgin Suicides (excellent movie, by the way). "Playground Love" stands out as the only pop-ish tune, while the rest of the album is mostly instrumental and atmospheric. It's dark and eerie -- a perfect fit for the movie.
I became such a fan that I eventually got three more albums:
- 10,000 Hz Legend, perhaps Air's strongest album, offers a hearty portion of musical meat to chew on. "Radian" is my favorite, particularly when the instruments kick in part way through. The album features Beck on "The Vagabond", another good tune.
- Moon Safari, released before 10,000Hz Legend but newer to me, has a "softer" feel (as if Air could get any more mellow). "La Femme d'Argent", "Talisman", "Ce Matin-La", "New Star in the Sky (Chanson Pour Solal)", and "Le Voyage de Penelope" are wonderful ambient jams with catchy bass parts. "You Make It Easy" and "All I Need" prevent me from calling Moon Safari their best album because of the corny vocals. Don't get me wrong, they don't seem out of place, just corny.
- Talkie Walkie, Air's newest album, seems more laid back than the others. "Universal Traveler", "Mike Mills", and "Surfing on a Rocket" (which is in a car commercial now) stand out to me as the pleasant sounding tracks, while "Run" and "Another Day" are more brooding and ominous. But there's enough variety on the album to make it worth checking out.
Well, that's my take on Air so far. I don't yet own Premiers Symptomes, an album of their earliest stuff. Air makes great relaxation music. I listen to it while driving and fall asleep at the wheel.