Wednesday, March 15, 2006

album review: yeah yeah yeahs- show your bones.

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it goes without saying that yeah yeah yeahs burst onto the scene like a rocket with their eponymous ep. the art punk trio from brooklyn was thrust into the spotlight around the same time that the strokes were crowned the "saviors of rock and roll." their ep was a reflection of what everyone has grown to love about them: karen o's unadulterated spontaniety and superstar charisma; nick zinner's bluesy, punky, and downright awesome guitar riffs; and brian chase's sometimes perfectly-timed, sometimes super-raw drumming. then came the critically-acclaimed fever to tell full-length, which came right after a jump to interscope records. it was released with virtually no fanfare, and with the help of the timeless art-punk mixtape staple "maps," turned them into alternative rock radio's favorite children.

after a rigorous touring schedule, karen moved from brooklyn to la, nick put out a fantastic photography book [and a hipster coffee table staple], and brian played in his side project and taught drum lessons to the kids back in new york, they got together and recorded their second lp in los angeles. when most bands describe their sophomore album as a "drastic change," the average music fan would cough "bullshit" under their breath. this is what early reports of show your bones were describing. however, what happened is something similar to how franz ferdinand handled their criminally-overlooked second album: changed up the formula just enough to show that they were more than a one trick pony. but when your one trick is as awesome as yeah yeah yeah's first album, is that a good thing?

track one. "gold lion":
the first track, and the lead single, starts out with a drumbeat similar to queen's "we will rock you," minus the stadium pomp. then, an instrument that did not show its face on the first album, the acoustic guitar, comes in, along with karen's voice. this song reminded me a lot of tegan and sara, which is by no means a bad thing. there's also a couple of eerie sounds and a nice little synth line that come in later. i could imagine some hipster kids ironically pumping their fists to this song.

track two. "way out":
starting out with either a fuck-up or just nick practicing, this song ends up sounding more like a tegan and sara song than "gold lion." only, it rocks a little harder. by the end of the chorus, nick busts out another guitar-god moment, making me bang my head for the first time since the first time i heard "smells like teen spirit." and that's an incredible feat. something tells me that nick zinner is going to be the hipster's robert plant, if he isn't already. mark my words.

track three. "fancy":
speaking of "smells like teen spirit" this song sounds like it would have made a killing in the grunge era. it's slow, sludgy, with karen's refrain of "we're just another part of you," which in itself may be the new slogan for teen angst. by the bridge of the song, karen quiets down and sounds the guitar pedals must have been set to "eerie" again. at the end of the song, there is a rock out, and a great solo by nick.

track four. "phenomena":
great drumbeat, and a fantastic guitar riff. and karen's chant of "i'm something like a phenomena" reminds me of the really shitty ll cool j song called "phenomenon." that's the spirit of rock and roll: taking something shitty and turning it into something that's awesome. lots of weird effects right after the choruses. that makes for a very artful effect. towards the end are very ethereal, and eerie [that word again!] chants.

track five. "honeybear":
the setup of this song is wonderful: dance-punk, followed by a bouncy chorus with a great riff, followed by slow and bluesy verses. rinse and repeat. i'm really rocking out to this song. i have no time to analzye it.

track six. "cheated hearts":
the media is calling this song "the followup to 'maps' ", but i see it as the direct link between this release and their debut. karen's vocals are softer, and this is arguably the catchiest song on this album thus far, so i can see the comparison. and the chorus is one of the best things i've heard all year. nick zinner is my guitar hero.

track seven. "dudley":
this is the type of atmospheric rock song that u2 has been trying to write for years. it would be an anthem, if it weren't for the direct rip-off of the "mockingbird" [the nursery rhyme, not the carly simon song]. it's a good song, but i can't get past the fact that karen decided to directly rip off that melody. i'm sure if she would have come up with something on her own, or rip off anything else, it would have made this song better.

track eight. "mysteries":
rollicking drums and guitars, and a bright-sounding melody from karen o makes this song sound like the best garage rock anthem that jack white didn't write. expect the stripes to cover this song with meg on vocals. it's that good.

track nine. "the sweets":
a minimalist drum pattern and acoustic guitar line. karen sounding kind of somber. this is my favorite vocal melody on this album. between the first and second verse, there are more eerie guitar effects. i don't want to drive that word into the ground, but there are no better words to describe it. after the second verse, the drums kick in in a big way, and after a building crescendo, the song turns into a sludgy rockout. this is, undoubtedly, the climax of the album.

track ten. "warrior":
it sounds like they recorded this song in a closet, which isn't a bad thing at all. it makes for a great comedown to something as fierce as the ending of "the sweets." this is karen's saddest, quietest vocal performance since "modern romance." then, everything gets louder. to fantastic results.

track eleven. "turn into":
an anthemic, silver-lining ending to the sadness that was "warrior." it's amazing how these guys made the tracklisting so perfect. every song added to the mood of the album. there's a little bit of piano in this song. another song u2 wishes they would have written.

yeah yeah yeahs knocked another one out of the park. with the exception of "dudley," which was a minor stumble, nick, karen, and brian created a fantastic record. just enough creativity and progression to prove this to be the total opposite of a sophomore slump. in fact, it's like their first step to becoming a huge band.

essential tracks:
"the sweets," "cheated hearts," "mysteries."


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