Rarely does a band come on the scene and eviscerate all other newcomers in such short time, but that’s exactly what DFA 1979 did with their monumentally disruptive debut, “You’re A Woman, I’m a Machine.” Today we add this to the series “Albums of my Life.” Enjoy
With the piano opening, you might expect this to be an album that gradually dives into its substance and influences, but rather it’s nearly the opposite. “Turn it Out,” forces you to face this demanding, high energy music, and if this is your type of jam, you’re likely gladly welcoming the tension and up close animosity soaking through the speakers. With this opening track, Jesse F. Keeler and Sebastien Grainger clearly lay down their hypothesis for what the rest of this record will consist of.
Now, these songs are short, but none feel like they need more. Except for the closer of the album, none of the tracks are over 4 minutes, with most running under three minutes or less. This does two things in a record format: First it gets the listener immediately immersed in the quick pace of the album, but secondly, it states the purpose of the band. These guys aren’t Tool or Godspeed! You Black Emperor. Rather they approach the songs from a more punk rock background. The vocals are ratty and gritty, and between the chunky bass playing and intermittent synths by JFK, they demonstrate that they have no time to waste to engage an audience, whether it be through record or live performance.
Even under the six minute mark, we’re already on track three. “Going Steady,” is the first track on the record to not be unabashedly angry, but with plenty of darker tones on the synth, it still maintains the vibe of the record. This record is a strange one in the way that you wouldn't think it would be easy to dance to, but in fact it is. Even as the song rocks on, it’s difficult not to move to it, but if you don’t go fast, you’ll miss it before you even realize it’s there. Furthermore, the introduction of “Go Home, Get Down,” basically forces itself through the door with a fist and punch mixed with heavy drums and keyboards that are basically alien to the genre being presented,
That's what makes this band so important. They subvert the angriness of random parts and make a sort of mashup that is able to exist in various forms. This band shouldn’t work on any level, but off the power of this one record, they not only created a loyal, fervent fan base, but they went from playing shit clubs to opening for Queens of the Stone Age and Nine Inch Nails. That’s progress.
The middle of the record though is where the true meat of the album is presented. “Blood on our Hands,” is a catchy accomplishment and triumphant, while “Black History Month,” is one of the most well rounded, varied songs the band includes on this album. The drums and bass are perfect, and for the first time Grainger isn’t growling with resentment. It’s a track that paints a picture of unhappiness and teenager wonder all in one fail swoop. If this isn’t among the band’s best tracks, I don’t know what is.
After that though, it’s nearly right back to the brimming violence of the album's opening tracks. “Little Girl,” “Cold War,” and the title track found at number nine all embody the spirit of a band, even if it’s still in it’s relative infancy(The band would disband immediately after the touring cycle and wouldn’t reconvene for nearly five years.) The magic presented on “You’re a woman,” is profound, cathartic, and easy to get into because of its mentality and simplicity. That’s not to undermine the record in anyway or make it out to be immature or incomplete. Basically bands like Japandroids owe these guys a huge debt of gratitude for what they accomplished. This type of act shouldn’t have success, but thankfully the did. By the closing track of “Sexy Results,” though, the band has exhausted their ideas, and choose to conclude the record with a more sexy, swagger filled track that doesn’t require thrashing about, but rather the ability to showcase how seductive and alluring they can be in going after what they want. There’s really nothing to say anymore regarding how great this record is. Thanks for reading.
It's Times like these we learn to love again( Or my top 10 must see bands at the Voodoo Music Fest 2014)
So Voodoo Fest in New Orleans is only a few weeks away, and frankly, I'm slightly excited. I've been many times before, and if you're a fan of the city and a crazy mix of music, you should have fun. Obviously, much has been made of the declining quality of recent lineups, but this year is a bit better than most. Still nowhere near what they could be doing in my opinion, but for a somewhat major festival 5 miles from my house, it's pretty good. Just as a warning, on this list you're not going to find any of the big name dance acts, or even just big names. Honestly, I picked the ten that are the most fun for me, and ran with it. These bands are all good in their own way, and if you haven't heard of any of these, you should check them out. It's a pretty diverse group, but so is this festival. Anyway, here are my top 10 must see acts of Voodoo weekend!
10. Flow Tribe, 3:00, Ritual Stage, Saturday November 1st
So I saw these funky New Orleanians at the festival last year (not to mention a show a few months later at a club that was just as much fun) and they absolutely blew me away. Just tons of fun, amazing energy, and a great mid afternoon set. The singer, K.C., even used to come through where I formerly worked and we would chat about shows and music. This year, they open the Main Stage, and if they bring the same amount of energy as they've displayed previously, that stage is going to be full of swagger and smiling faces once these fella's get moving. One of the best known local bands in town, they deserve to be bigger, and hopefully after you see them, you'll agree.
9. The Revivalists, 3:30, Flambeau Stage, Sunday November 2nd
I first saw these guys at Jazz Fest a few years ago and was totally taken off guard. They have a ton of talent and a pretty good following around the city. The sound is slightly funk, some indie rock, and a voice vaguely reminiscent of Alice in Chains' Layne Staley. If you like any of what I just mentioned, take a walk over and see them. This will be my third time seeing them, and if you are looking for new bands to check out, I highly suggest you make it to their set. The timing of their set is also really ideal. It's a great time of the day to watch a band, have a few drinks, and start dancing. If that's your sort of thing, get there.
8. Big Freedia, 9:00, Carnival Stage, Saturday November 1st
Ass everywhere. Basically that's all you need to know. This originator of NOLA Bounce is well known in the area and is one of the pioneer's of the genre. I've seen her quite a few times, and it's both the most energetic and surreal show you'll see. You might think I'm being fucked up, but it's awesome and ridiculous and will have everyone shaking their asses the whole time. Even if the crowd isn't initially getting their ass shaking on, the dancers on stage will be. You're likely not even going to see their faces because of ass. Bounce music at it's core here, so be aware of what you're getting yourself into.
7. Givers, 7:00, Flambeau Stage, Saturday November 1st
Another great band from the state, Givers come two hours west from Lafayette and bring with them a pretty unique and fun take on the local indie scene around the state. A little bit pop, a little folkly, they've been around for awhile now, and have steadily gotten better and more well known. They even played Coachella and Bonnaroo, so they have a little national cred going for them. The second album isn't out yet, but expect them to share plenty from the upcoming record at their set on Day two of the festival.
6. Rise Against, 6:00, Ritual Stage, Friday October 31st
One of the best, most energetic shows I've seen, these guys really know how to bring the A game for shows, and I'm incredibly pumped to see them for a second them. Some people might not consider the music punk rock or not, but the tone of the message is without a doubt in line with other well known punk bands. Something about the anthematic qualities of the music, and the optimism they have in their message really drive the point home. Seeing them in a club was fantastic, so hopefully they can win the crowd over and make a lasting impact. You'll be able to find me somewhere, singing and pumping my fists in the air, because well, that's what you do at a Rise Against show.
5. 30 Seconds to Mars, 7:45, Ritual Stage, Saturday November 1st
I'm sorry, they're a guilty pleasure, and not all of their music is great, but Jared Leto is the one person who did a good job at both music and acting. That being said, I was surprised to see them on the lineup because I wasn't even aware they made music anymore, but it should be a cool show. I'm aware they have quite a large fanbase, so it should be interesting to see how big the turnout is. It's been a bit since I have listened to them, but the first album is still pretty amazing, so i'm looking forward to seeing the 30 Seconds to Mars brand of sci-fi futuristic rock hard as the night fills the sky.
4. Slayer, 7:30, Ritual Stage, HALLOWEEN FUCKING NIGHT.
As a kid growing up, Slayer was one of my favorite bands, and to this day, I'll still throw on some “Reign in Blood” when the mood strikes. Seriously, one of my favorite items I own is a pair of limited edition of Slayer shoes, that still look good even after 12 years or so. Easily the most brutal band on the bill, and wouldn't you know it, they're unleashing hell on All Hallow's Eve. I've seen them a number of times, and it's always loud, in your face, and chaotic. Also, they're direct support to Outkast, so that should make for a very intriguing crowd mix. How are hip hop fans going to deal with one of the most unabahsedly evil bands of all time? Only time will tell, but even if you aren't a fan of old school demonic thrash metal, it's worth it just to say you've seen Slayer.
3. Outkast, 9:20, Ritual Stage, Friday October 31st
Finally, I get to see one of the best, most original hip hop acts of the last 30 years. These legends have done so much for modern music it's absurd. A few of the early shows had subpar reviews, but it seems Andre and Big Boi have found their groove and the shows have gotten progressively better. It's going to be right after Slayer, so hopefully everyone still has energy because I'm sure these ATLiens plan to make the asses move and to close out the first day of the festival in utter happiness.
2. Death From Above 1979, 4:30, Ritual Stage. Saturday November 1st
Just two days ago I wrote about these guys, so you know I'm stoked for them. They will lay waste to the park when they walk on stage. A different type of heavy from Slayer, but they might actually cause more destruction. For a two man band, they're going to bring enough ammo to make sure everyone is gasping for air once they exit the grounds. As you can see from their placement on this list, they're one of the main reasons I'm going to the festival, and I plan to bring my dancing shoes and thrashing about in a state of panicked jubilation for the duration of their set. Cheers, there is “Blood on our Hands” again.
1. Foo Fighters. 6:30, Ritual Stage, Sunday November 2nd
Whether or not you're fan of this band, the show itself is worth checking out. However, if you are a fan and haven't seen them before, you're in for one hell of a show. Two and half hours of amazing songs, a metric shit ton of energy and mulitple sing a longs sounds like the exact way to end a great weekend. The new album won't be out until later that week, but i'm sure we'll hear plenty of new tracks, along with plenty of other songs from their previous albums. I can't even decide which songs I want to hear the most, but whether or not they play any of them doesn't really concern me. Oh, as you may or may not know, a few songs off the new record were recorded here in New Orleans, so there's a pretty good chance the Foo's will have some surprises up their sleeves for us. These guys were made to create music, and on the last day they're gonna show us why they continue to be one of the best working bands in music.
Hope you enjoyed the list, See you in two weeks!!
Every now and then, I fall hard for a band. One of those bands, who I was instantly drawn to and quickly became obsessed with, was Death From Above 1979. The sound was so fresh, so vibrant, so full of life and immediate energy that it touched a cord in me that still hasn't subsided. Sadly, the band, at least in their first try, wasn't destined to last. Rumors of arguments and differences soon led to the band announcing the end, and just like that, the band who had recently released a once in a lifetime album was no more.
Years later though, something happened. Out of nowhere, the band was announced as being part of the 2011 Coachella lineup. From there, the band tore up stages with more fervor than previously, and everything worked in the way the band had hoped it could always work. Thankfully, after a while of faith and hoping, we finally have the second album from the briefly legendary Death From Above 1979.
The record, “The Physical World,” starts out in very similar fashion to the album that made them a huge underground phenomenon, “You're a Woman I'm a Machine.” From the early onset, you can tell that the band has not only gotten better at their instruments, but through the passage of years, they've refined their sound. Sure it's a bit more polished, and not as prickly as the previous album, but the crunch of album opener “Cheap Talk” is undeniably DFA1979. I mean, there are tons of bands who can bring it in small packages, but Jesse F. Keeler and Sebastien Grainger have the grit and veracity to contend with bands that have five or six members. The amount of sound bursting from these two guys is insane and admirable. As you might expect, the album is not really a relaxing Sunday type of record. The second track, “Right On Frankenstein,” ups the ante and pile drives through concrete as Grainger's voice is raspy and out for blood. It's one of the better songs on the album, and shows the listener they haven't lost a touch of the angst with which they crashed through the gates.
“Always On,” might be the best song on this record. Many of the songs are standouts, but this mother of a track is the Everest of the album. You get the impression that the band is aware of the amount of hype surrounding their triumphant return, and they handle the pressure brilliantly, busting out a song so strong, that for my money, is hard to keep going because I know the rest of the album can't possibly top it. This ends up being both true and untrue. It's true because it's the most dfa sounding song on the album, and it hits it out of the park. Its aggressive, and full blown, and chaotic, just how I want this band to be. On the other hand though, it's untrue because the band breaks through a wall in the next couple of songs that is different from anything they've previously attempted, but it still sounds like the band. The song in question, “White is Red” is a love song in the way only this band can deliver. I simply can't get enough of it. It's a real leap forward for these guys, and I'm thoroughly impressed that they went out of their comfort zone and tried something new. The song is pretty bleak at times, but love and relationships can be too. It's very much a realistic portrayal of the difficulties of romance, and one of the best pieces of music the dynamic duo has ever put together. It's a perfect blend of soft spoken openings and crushing climaxes that come to a head in typical fashion and tie the song together.
The next song though, is right back to funky good 'ole Death from Above. “Trainwreck 1979,” was the first single from the record, and for a first glimpse, they really couldn't have picked a better song. If the listener didn't know better one might be hard pressed to figure out what album this was coming from. But in the end I think it's a testament to how solid the band is even after 10 years away. Just writing this review makes me wonder what the band would have been like, had they not broken up. But in a weird way, I'm happy they split, figured out their past failures, and reconvened to start the uphill climb to return to their former glory.
The next three tracks are very familiar sounding, both in style and intensity. Near the end of the first album, the last three songs before the finale are intense and in your face. The band must have realized this worked well, because it's almost the same thing here. “Nothing Left,” is full of dirty bass lines and “Government Trash” starts at 70mph and doesn't slow down. Just picture this song in a hardcore horror film where someone is running from their life in a car while the evildoer is behind them, ready to take them down. The final song in the trilogy of rush hour break beats comes to us in the form of “Gemini.” Instantly, you hear the familiar screeching of JFK's bass and from there, it's a song about a girl “who cries on her birthday” and “bloodstained walls.”
The last song, which also happens to be the title track, is a good song with a great opening. While I like the song a lot, it doesn't hook me like some of the other songs do. I'm aware this sounds like I think the song sucks, but I'm merely stating that, while it's a good song, it's not the landmark you might hope to get at the end of such a emotionally heavy album. Having said that though, overall the record is very strong, and I'm glad to see them making new music after such a long hiatus. Hopefully this time, they have the power to keep going and truly change music again. Thanks for reading.
Landon Murray is a published writer and an avid lover of music, books and films. He's also a lover of the New Orleans Saints. He was born in 1982 and has a chainsaw tattoo on his arm.
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