…and now for something completely peppy. For your consideration (and listening pleasure), two bands and songs to brighten your day.
Also, see above ↑ for a new banner heading for upcoming shows with a list of who is on tour around the country and visiting Chicago in the near future.
Allo Darlin’s “Capricornia” (via You Tube)
What is not to like about this song? Elizabeth Morris’ dreamy vocals against a really catchy series of guitar chords make this just pure pleasure. The thing about Allo Darlin’ is that they aren’t reinventing the wheel, in fact, you’ll probably feel like you’ve heard it before, playing somewhere in some car or porch on a day you remember fondly. It’s happy mood soundtrack music. Allo Darlin’ who met in London are two parts English and two parts Australian and make smirk-inducing pop music in the vein of latter-day Belle and Sebastian, Camera Obscura, Velocity Girl, and Dear Nora. Elizabeth Morris’ voice reminds me a great deal of the early 90s Australian group Frente, which is more obvious on the acoustic track that follows “Capricornia” (on the NPR mini podcast here). If you need more of Allo Darlin’ infectious pop, then listen to their 2010 self-titled release here and keep a look out for their new record in 2012. (Plus, clearly they have good taste because their favorite Weezer song comes from the classic and brilliant Pinkerton. Can you name the tune?)
Also, Allo Darlin’ is currently on a U.S. tour, go check them out! They will be playing Chicago on Tuesday, May 15th at Schuba’s. I’d go but will be attending the La Sera show on the other side of town. I haven’t yet discovered how to be in two places at once, but will continue to work and report back. If you have any insight on how to accomplish this and/or replicate one’s self, please do share.
fun. – “Carry On” (via You Tube)
Perhaps I am the last person in the U.S. to actually listen to this band. It appears these guys scored a number 3 on Billboard’s Hot 100 a couple of months back. #behindthetimes. In retrospect, I recall seeing their name and some images earlier this year but for whatever reason (probably because I was obsessing over the Sharon Van Etten and Sleigh Bells albums) I totally missed the boat on this band. Well, I owe a debt of gratitude to the NPR All Songs Considered for adding this song (a live version though) to their podcast.
“Carry On” starts slowly, a simple melody played on piano with the lead singer intoning a pensive narrative; however, don’t let the opening deceive you. From a tune of recollection, it slowly builds and explodes into an anthemic, arena rock song evocative of Queen, REO Speedwagon, Styx, and Supertramp, with a very 80s guitar rock riff three quarters of the way through the song. In other words, there are a lot of operatic and dramatic elements with a Prog Rock influence elements at play. Nothing about this song is heady or lyrically transcendent, in fact it appears to be mostly about overcoming the hurtful minutiae of everyday life, but there is value in that too! It is pure youthful, pop goodness, easily a musical guilty pleasure. (Note: To me there is more REO Speedwagon than Queen but you wouldn’t still be reading if I started my list with REO Speedwagon. The Queen comparison stems mostly from the lead singer’s Freddie Mercury like vocals.) (Does anyone hear the faint similarity at times to Rod Stewart’s “Rhythm of My Heart”? Or am I crazy? When in doubt take the latter.)
As for the rest of the record, I am not going to write an extensive post about it. I find it a pleasant listen, but I admit it doesn’t deliver on the promise of “Carry On”. It is a curious collection of pop motifs of the last decade, the late 70’s, and 80’s (for some reason the 90s doesn’t exist in their musical lexicon). For example, “It Gets Better” has strains of Piebald, Blink 182, (Tom DeLonge’s follow up project to Blink 182) and Built to Spill – a hard driving pop-rock with a hint of Emo (If you haven’t already, you are likely to stop reading now, I said the “E word.”). “Some Nights” starts with another arena rock allusion to Kansas (“Carry on My Wayward Son”) then adds a Paul Simon Graceland-era percussion, all the while the lead singer intones his best Freedie Mercury imitation, culminating in a vocoder-laden choral symphony. I’m not gonna lie, despite the strange combination, it really works and makes me smile. Other tracks, definitely betray the influence of popular indie-rock bands with enough argyle clout to appear on the OC or Gossip Girl like Vampire Weekend, Discovery, and Passion Pit. Don’t get me wrong, I really like those bands; I just find fun.’s version less fresh. Also, apart from the excellent chorus, “We Are Young”, their first single, doesn’t really move me. A final point about this band/record, there is startling and seemingly unabashed sincerity to fun.’s music. Despite my proclivity towards sarcasm and double entendre, I really appreciate the wide-eyed idealism, the exuberance, and epic sound of the record and, for this reason alone, would suggest giving it a spin, click here.
I think fun.’s sartorial aesthetic would make Whit Stillman happy.