Friday, April 01, 2005

Guer(err)o Rocher

We can only apologise for the paucity of posts over the last couple of days - as we have warned, we had a new media venture to launch. And there was barely sufficient time to cast a jaundiced eye over NY1 in the morning. A lot of it seeped in by osmosis, so we are dimly aware that Annika Pergament and Debbie DuHaime were replaced by understudies, in the latter case much to our relief (her voice sounds like a shrill, high-pitched version of Patty LaBelle).

But we should offer congratulations to Gary Anthony Ramsay, who recently sired a child that was the dead spit of that of a colleague of ours. This may be the reason why top general-assignent-but-really-human-interest reporter Roger Clark was plonked outside of St Pats wearing his sad face to, er, cover, the Pope's current illness.

Still, there's always room for that last refuge of scoundrels, the rock review. We went on a comfort metal-buying spree at the Virgin, and emerged with Leviathan, the latest from Mastodon and Guero from Bech, because we were weary, and the thought of buying yet more Backyard Babies brought on The Fear.

So, to Leviathan. We went to see them about three years ago (we're sorry, did you think this was a real review? No, it's a chance to show off, like all the other music journalism, so there) at the departed, but not yet siteless Luxx. Our associate for the evening expected that Mastodon, which does conjure up images of scantily-clad women on the back of hairy dinosaurs, would be a bit more trad. She was pleasantly surpirsed by how "mathy" they were.

At the time, the idea of describing metal as mathy was not too us a familiar one. We got the hang of it quite quickly, though, as early as the next Wetnurse gig, in fact. It goes to the heart of why metal is such incredibly versatile music - that something so noisy can be stripped down to its bare essentials or turned into a baroque mess while still sounding vital. So, Grindcore has the rhythm, but not the melody, and only the barest of arrangements. Death metal has the screeching, and some melody, but not much in the way of rhythm (which the racists of Scandinavia have decided is just not the Aryan way).

Math metal tends to have rather jerky stop-start rhythms, and the melody is rather elusive, but there is an impressive slate of arrangements. And Leviathan does this wonderfully, like head-food for the grumpy. We won't bore you with the ways that it draws upon Moby Dick, except to note that we seem to remember Meatloaf, playing Tiny in Wayne's World saying that a particularly good band "whaled".

Do we have much more to add? Not really, suggest you go to this pdf of a Times review if you want to hear a college boy talk metal (he thinks they're the soul of jazz). But they don't sound like Rush despite what you may hear. Their noise makes you feel helpless, like all the best stuff.

Guero we've come to far more solid conclusions on, although we have much less to say. There are three bands that are good at doing this loping, smiley-faced, rock-hop thing, and one of them is dead and the other one is mockney. You could say the Dust Brothers should be in there as well, but when they're not buffing up skinny boys with guitars they sound a bit like Thievery Corporation.

But the Brothers do keep cropping up, because the word is out that Beck has returned to Odelay territory. Of course, this line lasts about as long as your cloth-eared dilettante can remember the first song, which is, we must shamefully confess, guilty of stealing from So Whatcha Want, locking it up, and then making it all inane and bouncy. It gets wistful and Latin for a while, and then goes a tad downhill, and downbeat. Sounds a lot like Sea Change, which stole from Serge Gainsbourg but was no fun. And was played too much by the chap upstairs when we lived in P Heights.

Oh dear, this hasn't gone in the direction we wanted. because we really liked the album. We have spent the last few days sort of lunking around and bobbing like an underfed pimp to it. Be a great thing to play at dinner parties when people start getting stroppy. Blah, time to get our drink on. Happy weekend.


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