24 April 2009

Art Brut: "Art Brut Vs. Satan"

Art Brut is probably one of the more unique bands on the scene: awkward punk-style vocals, upbeat tempo that belies the subject matter, and awesome guitar riffs. It has become trite and cliché to call a band like Art Brut “indie,” lumped in with bands that have nothing in common sonically. So for their latest effort, “Art Brut Vs. Satan,” let’s refer to them as “upbeat with awkward vocals.” Originally signed to Fierce Panda, then Mute, and now Cooking Vinyl in the UK and Downtown Records in the US, “Art Brut vs. Satan” (20 April 2009 UK, 21 April 2009 US) was produced by Frank Black, former front man of the Pixies, now in Grand Duchy; he brings that edge his own music is known for to this recording.

One of things about the band I like is the cue they have taken from glam rock with stage names: Eddie Argos (lead vocals), Mikey Breyer (drums), Ian Cataskilkin (lead guitar), Jasper “Jeff” Future (guitar, backing vocals), and Freddy Feedback (bass). This sort of frolic is carried over to the themes of the songs. This is a fun album with songs reminiscent of growing up like “DC Comics and Milkshakes” (“DC comics and chocolate milkshakes, some things will always be great. DC Comics and chocolate milkshakes, even though I’m twenty-eight…. I never got over that amazing taste”) and songs about absurdities and black outs, like “Mysterious Bruises” (“I had one Zyrtec, two Advil, with the drink that made me feel invincible. I don’t know how I managed to do this, but I woke up this morning covered in bruises"). However, the songs never cross the line of stupidity, like those of many bands that try to be humorous.

It is a pretty darn clever album. The album’s first track and single is “Alcoholics Unanimous” (not anonymous), which pretty much sums up the song. It is a vivid description of a man dealing with alcoholism, in a realistic way but with an upbeat tempo. The irony is in the tempo but it is actually a very vivid scene. The guilt, emotions, and actions that the person goes through during the song sounds as though it came straight from a novel. And though there is even humor in how the song is put together, the seriousness of the addiction is never lost on the listener. The album ends off with “Mysterious Bruises,” which is a bit more mellow compared to the other tracks and revolves around, once again, a drink, several drinks actually. Something about this album makes it feel familiar, like an old friend; after a few listens, it becomes hypnotic. Though no one aspect of any song will blow you away (the awesome guitar riffs, the pounding drums, the driving bass, the awkward vocals), the combination of each is amazing – the careful attention to craftsmanship is obvious and should be commended. Get the album!

Track Listing
1. Alcoholics Unanimous
2. DC Comics and Chocolate Milkshake
3. The Passenger
4. Am I Normal?
5. What a Rush
6. Demons Out!
7. Slap Dash for No Cash
8. The Replacements
9. Twist and Shout
10. Summer Job
11. Mysterious Bruises

Check them out on tour (visit their homepage for more details).
4/26 Poole, UK
4/27 Manchester, UK
4/28 Birmingham, UK
4/29 Newcastle, UK
4/30 York, UK
5/1 Leeds, UK
5/2 Glasgow, UK
5/4 Nottingham, UK
5/5 Bristol, UK
5/6 Brighton, UK
5/7 London, UK
5/8 Brussels, Belgium
5/9 Amsterdam, Netherlands
5/11 Hannover, Germany
5/12 Copenhagen, Denmark
5/13 Hamburg, Germany
5/14 Cologne, Germany
5/15 Berlin, Germany
5/17 Stuttgart, Germany
5/18 Munich, Germany
5/19 Vienna, Austria
5/21 Milan, Italy
5/22 Basel, Switzerland
5/23 Bern, Switzerland
5/25 Paris, France
5/29 Barcelona, Spain – Primavera Festival
5/31 Mainz, Germany – Open Ohr Festival
6/2 New York, USA
6/4 New York, USA
6/5 New York, USA
6/6 Philadelphia, USA
6/8 Chicago, USA
6/9 Chicago, USA
6/10 Chicago, USA
6/11 Chicago, USA
6/12 Chicago, USA
6/13 Chicago, USA
6/15 San Francisco, USA
6/16 Los Angeles, USA
6/17 Los Angeles, USA
6/18 Los Angeles, USA
6/19 Los Angeles, USA
6/25 Zagreb, Croatia – INMuisc Festival
7/3 Feldkirch, Austria
7/4 Sopron, Hungary – Volt Festival
7/24 Carinthia, Austria – Acoustic Lakeside
8/1 Osnabruck, Germany – Lokpop Spezial
8/7 Eschwege, Germany – Open Flair Festival

Keep up with the band at their homepage and MySpace.

Here is the link for their latest video, “Alcoholic Unanimous” from the DowntownRec YouTube Channel.