15 July 2010

Catching up with Via Audio and The Disco Biscuits

Slowly but surely I am catching up… and here are two albums that should have been written about already. Both American (see, I do listen to American music!), what I like about both bands is their range of musical references. They are able to bring in a lot of distinct elements, often time contradictory to one another, and meld it into a perfect song. Both have great pop sensibilities, but both are not trying to produce generic, throwaway, bubble gum pop – actually, I would not call any of this pop by any means. Instead Via Audio and veterans The Disco Biscuits offer up relevant and urgent music that is distinctly their own brands. I should have written about these a few weeks ago, but never had the chance and always get caught up on new music; so I know you may have heard these albums already, so I am not going to belabor the point… just add in my own two cents. Enjoy!

Via Audio “Animalore” (above) /
The Disco Biscuits: “Planet Anthem” (below)

Via Audio: “Animalore”

Like Heloise and the Savoir Faire, Interpol, and The Scissor Sisters, Via Audio offers up music that is distinctly New York. Out of Brooklyn, NY USA, Via Audio released their sophomore effort, “Animal Lore” (9 March 2010), earlier this year. Though losing one member, now a quartet (Tom Deis, David Lizmi, Jessica Martins, and Adam Sturtevant), the music is actually better than the first time around. I had that feeling of a new band trying too hard the first time around with the debut, but this time the music is more alluring and more infectious. With a touch of New York indie, less “folk” but more “funk,” “Animalore” offers up groovy tunes that are party or lounge ready.

The cover (above) of the album belies the music you are going to be listening to. The strong charging ram is not a metaphor, per se, for this album; the music is not confrontational, nor is it in your face. From the opening, you are seduced into a lounging feel; opening with “Hello” – the introduction is a sedate one, but one of those songs that is pretty open-ended in style, other than its obvious 60s references, that you know that anything can come next. It is the kind of opening that leaves the sky as the limit for what is about to come. “Goldrush” then rushes in and is a bit more new wave in feel, with little breathing sound effects in the background; the transition between verse and chorus is one of the most beautiful of the year. But if you thought that the music was going to continue in this fashion, you were dead wrong.

The third song, the lead single, then comes, “Babies,” and the disco references rush in – let the mirror ball start spinning. Sandwiched in the middle of the album is a small interlude, “Too Quiet,” that helps with the transition to “Lizard Song.” “You wanted a monster, here I am,” is sung to an almost tropical arrangement – but kept from that cliché by the guitar work. And as you drown yourself towards the end, whether the melodramatically somber “Olga” or the playful “Happening,” you realize that the range of the band is extensive.

Without drastically changing it up, “Animalore” subtly moves through different styles of music, mixing up the feel song to song. Via Audio never allow you to become complacent with one style, always keeping you on your toes, but never getting gritty or in your face about it. All the time with that New York City sensuality to it, that kind of sensuality that you may be scared to give into, but definitely want to – and should in this case.

Track Listing:
1. Hello
2. Goldrush
3. Babies
4, Tigers
5. Watnted
6. Too Quiet
7. Lizard Song
8. Digital
9. Summer Stars
10. Oh Blah Wee
11. Olga
12. Happening

Keep up with Via Audio at their homepage, MySpace, Facebook,and Twitter.

Here is a live performance of “Babies” from the TenthRowConcerts YouTube Channel.

The Disco Biscuits: “Planet Anthem”

Hailing from the City of Brotherly Love, The Disco Biscuits are perhaps the most ingenious band releasing this year. “Planet Anthem” (16 March 2010) incorporates everything from current indie trends to hip-hop, 80s new wave to 90s rock, and yet the album flows effortlessly from one song to another. This is a veteran group that knows how to compose music, knows their way around a studio, and can deliver the goods over and over again. And again, they deliver a schizophrenic collection of songs. Whether urging you to dance or seducing you into passion, this is a band that has not bought into the concept of sticking to one genre only, and is willing to dip their fingers into just about any style of music.

Sure the opening, “Loose Change,” reminds me of “Beetlebum” by Blur, but, as I like Blur, it did not make me cringe at all. In the track, an electronic voice states over and over again, “Money…” as the human voice chimes in the biblical lesson, “is the root of all evil.” Loose change is the root of all evil? Surely loose change can’t be evil? Irony at its best! Then “On Time” (featuring TuPhace) comes in and the party is ready to begin. Easily a contender for track of the year, this is a sleek, sexy, and sensual song that is hard not carried away in… can anyone tell me why radio programmers did not pick this one up? Though the song is not minimalist in sound, it is in approach: only the sounds and effects that add to the rhythm and lyrics are layered in. The song has the singular effect of getting you off of your arse and onto your feet for some dancing.

But the album, as I said above, is schizophrenic, it is all over the place. “Widgets” is closer to indie rock than anything else. “Konkrete” reminds me of industrial music around 1990, with a superior beat – if you were into the heydays of Meat Beat Manifesto, this will be a hard track to pass up. And if you ever wondered what the meeting of Intelligent Dance Music and dreampop would sound like, then listen to “Rain Song.” “The City” has that pyschadelia feel to it, while “Vacation” has that 90s grunge feel.

Then you have a song like “You and I” – just forget the schizophrenia from one track to the next, this is a schizophrenic fest all on its own. Again, another song that is easily a contender for track of the year, this song is simply orgiastic. And, I personally love schizophrenic albums; those kinds of album that you can never predict what is coming next and are often pleasantly surprised by what does come next. And this is what The Disco Biscuits have produced here with “Planet Anthem.” Do not let this album get by you.

Track Listing:
1. Loose Change
2. On Time, featuring TuPhace
3. Widgets
4. You and I
5, Konkrete
6. Uber Glue
7. Rain Song
8. Fish Out of Water
9. Sweatbox
10. The City
11. Big Wrecking Ball
12. Vacation
13. Quad D
14. Save Your Soul, deluxe edition
15. Camouflage Soul, deluxe edition

Keep up with The Disco Biscuits at their homepage and MySpace.

Here is their video for “One Time” (featuring TuPhace) from their MySpace video page.

On Time

The Disco Biscuits | MySpace Music Videos

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