Thursday, April 30, 2009
This is a quality that I love about Foot Village, the willingness to be, in many ways, completely absurd. This band of 4 drummer/shouters and no other instruments is like one of those crazy weekend concept bands that might form and play one show and be forgotten because it was ridiculous to begin with. Well, that's what I would do on weekends. In fact, I feel like I've been in several bands something like Foot Village, but none of them have been carried to the point that FV have, with national and international tours and several albums, for which I wholeheartedly support them and cheer them on. At the same time, I often think "I can't believe anyone besides me likes this band!" Even the band themselves apparently have these "objective moments" because at the very end of the track "Race Till the End of Food" one of the band members says "I cannot believe this is our song."
That track, as well as a few others here, actually takes the form of a comedy sketch, with a character called "Hungee Bear" and other forest creatures having a race, till the end of food apparently. After a "ready, set, go," the bulk of the 10-minute track is a cacophony of drum flailing, with the levels way in the red and sounding like total square-wave harsh noise. Again, a willingness to be completely absurd.
This is a b-side collection (well, actually compiling non-album tracks from a variety of splits and limited releases, but I call these b-side collections), and b-side albums are almost always my favorite albums by bands. The Jesus & Mary Chain's "Barbed Wire Kisses," Royal Trux's "Singles Live Unreleased." You just get a much wider variety of music for your money. And here we get some rougher early material, some remixes, some singles, and a couple more noise-based experimental tracks. The "singles" - which I think portray Foot Village doing what they do best, are my favorites, like "Clubtraxxx I-III" and "Bones." The remixes are my least favorite because they largely just sound like an original song by the "remixer" which samples Foot Village. "Crow Call" sounds like an Anavan song with Foot Village vocals and "The Power of HEALTH" largely sounds like a remix of the band HEALTH (which I'm guessing it also is) with a few Foot Village drums and vocals. On the other hand, the Jason Forrest remix of "Narc Party" keeps most of the elements of the original in place, and the track "3840 Ticks of the Soul" with Captain Ahab seems like it's genuinely some kind of remixing of the original.
This album seems to put the tracks in chronological order, with the remixes mostly stacked at the end, and that seems like a weird way to listen to me. I prefer the songs mixed up like those previously mentioned b-side examples. But hey, that's what this shuffle function is for I guess. In fact, I shuffled the album just now and got a playlist I like so much, I think I'm going to edit the mp3 tags and make this my new official listening order! That "Narc Party" remix came first, and the "Race Till the end of food" was placed last, which works perfectly. In case you want to do the same, here's my recommended listening order:
1. Narc Party (Jason Forrest Remix)
2. Chicken and Cheese 2
4. Follow Your Heart (Featuring Eco Morti)
6. Clubtraxxx I-III
7. The Power of HEALTH (Captain Ahab Remix)
8. Comparable Love in the Time of development
9. Crow Call (Anavan Remix)
10. 3840 Ticks of the Soul (Featuring Captain Ahab)
11. Psychic Connection
12. 420 (National Holiday)
14. Race Till the End of Food
CD available from Gilgongo Records
Foot Village on Last.fm
Foot Village on MySpace
Thursday, April 16, 2009
You know, with all the bands out there which sound the same and pull from exactly the same influences, this album by Made in Mexico is really refreshing - but at the same time they make it seem so easy. By peeking just outside of the noise-rock/indie-rock world for inspiration, they immediately come up with something totally unique. And at the same time, it's clear this is just what came naturally to the band too, not a contrived theme, but a natural progression.
Let me back up and do the back-story as succinctly as possible. Guitarist Jeff Schneider used to be in Arab on Radar, a no-wave styled band known for their high energy. The others also come from various Providence avant-rock bands. At first Made in Mexico was a pretty thumping, skronky affair. Then I saw them a few years back and without radically changing the basic elements of their sound, they had found their groove. Literally. They made a packed room of people at one of those CMJ showcase shows dance.
The influence that is heavily quoted and mentioned all over this album is reggaeton music, which is something like a recent cross-breed of hip-hop, dancehall, and salsa. You can read more at Wikipedia. The characteristic reggaeton beat is that "BOOM ch-BOOM chick" that starts off the track "For Your Own Good" on this album. Of course reggaeton is usually made with drum machines and doesn't usually feature shrill, metallic guitar playing. It also usually features rapping, not alternating kitten-soft and banshee-shrieked vocals.
So what we have here is a genuine mutant hybrid, not no-wave anymore, too weird to be punk rock, and definitely not legitimate reggaeton. But definitely in the tradition of punk bands that looked outside of their immediate neighborhood for inspiration and came up with something refreshing, like Public Image Limited or Gang of Four or even the Clash. Maybe even the Pixies, who similarly merged piercing guitars, a Spanish influence, and soft/scream vocals - but with rather different results.
I just love the thematic unity of this whole album, with the packaging reflecting the music and lyrics, all of which also take inspiration from Latin American radical revolutionary politics. I also really like the little musical interludes which feature riffs from songs elsewhere on the album, and "Mundo 1" even uses that siren sound that they always use on NYC's reggaeton radio station when they change from one song to the next. One of my favorite parts of the album is the last track, "March on La Migra." It starts our somewhat innocuous, but takes a left turn halfway through and becomes downright chilling by the end with singer Rebecca Mitchell screaming "Surely they want - human touch!" At least, I think that's what she's saying. Definitely ending on a high note.
Available on CD and LP from Skin Graft Records.
Thursday, April 02, 2009
I'm also excited to discover that they have some brand-brand-new songs (newer than the old-new "Half Control" album) up on their MySpace page, right here. The new songs sound maybe a little, "lighter?" Not in terms of psychological weight, they're still just as dark and heavy in that regard, but giving the instruments a little more room to breathe.
The band also reports that their South By Southwest shows went well, so we can safely conclude that their fans in Massachusetts and Rhode Island can expect great shows there this Friday and Saturday. (Feeling a little bad for expressing so much skepticism before.) Alright, and there's your annual dose of No-Core's "timely music news."