Sunday, December 14, 2008
For my Number Nine record of the year, I am going to choose "Microcastle" by Georgia's hypest of the hype bands Deerhunter. I sort of wrote Deerhunter off last year due to their constant presence in the Pitchforkmedia news section, as well as their frontman Bradford Cox's reputation as a particularly insane and unstable person, going on tantrums and scary rants at shows, telling everyone how much he misses his family as well as how fucked up on pills he is. Then, after a long day of drinking at CMJ 2007, I saw them play a show with No Age, Dan Deacon, and Ponytail, and I was thoroughly impressed by them.
The songs on Microcastle are more concise, shorter, and more structured than their 2007 debut Cryptograms, which got heavy comparisons to My Bloody Valentine and every other shoegaze band. After seeing them at CMJ, I realized Deerhunter is a hype band that, underneath the thick layers of hype and bullshit that tend to cloud them, lies a band with an ear for tasteful composition, almost taking Neil Young's "less is more" approach and ironically applying it to Shoegaze, a genre where supposedly, the more pedals and noise you have, the better. Just when every band in the genre is trying to one up each other, Deerhunter take the road that is now less traveled and make a simpler record than their last one.
The songs here have more "hooks" and are far more memorable and individually satisfying. This does, however, mean that there are more throwaway tracks, making an all-the-way-through listen a little harder than it may have been with Cryptograms. Perhaps this is Deerhunter for your iPod. This might be as close as Deerhunter could come to writing a "hit" record.
and the lyrics, my god the lyrics, they're quite depressing. If you ever feel like you've nearly reached the bottom of a bottomless pit, just listen to this shit and be thankful that you're not Bradford Cox, whose lyrics are more narcissistic than they are empathetic. But like many great artists, perhaps his self destructive ego is required in order to produce the startling honesty evident in his lyrics. Lines such as "I had a dream/No longer to be free/I want only to see/Four walls made of concrete" paint a pretty grim portrait, on top of "It's winter/In my heart/It never stops."
As far as other influences go, they remind me a little of Spiritualized and Spacemen Three. Really beautiful melodies with a dark, isolated, agoraphobic sense of paranoia to boot, this is a definite inside, winter, sun going down at 4:30 pm kind of record. Which sounds perfect for right about now considering the upcoming winter solstice. So enjoy this album for the appropriate soundtrack it paints to the dreary winter, just remember the days are about to start getting longer and longer and it won't be long before you'll be listening to Born To Run with all the windows rolled down.
weird music video for "Agoraphobia"