A Memo From Feldman Saying Everything Is True

September 12, 2005 at 4:34 am (Uncategorized)

I’ve heard it said that only that which you love can truly engender feelings of true disappointment and betrayal. Not sure I’d totally buy into that, but I will say that after 2 months of trying to “get” the latest from Canadian “supergroup” The New Pornographers, I’m giving up.

This is no small potatoes. I love this band. Carl Newman is a brilliantly gifted songwriter, and if you dig his New Porn work, iTunes still has his early-90’s work fronting Zumpano available. I love Neko Case–mostly her voice, of course! Like Debby Harry channeling Patsy Cline. A singular voice and talent. The rest of the band? Hey, having seen the videos for “All For Swinging You Around” and especially the incredible “The Laws Have Changed”, I’m utterly convinced of keyboardist Blaine Thurier’s brilliance. Dan Bejar’s “Sublimation Hour” recorded under his other nom de rock, Destroyer, is maybe the greatest self-referential rock anthemof the past decade. (Hey, Misra was nice enough to leave the full mp3 of that song up on their server for now; if you haven’t heard it, you need to. Tell me the guitar bashing out of the final verse when Bejar sings “There’s a rumor goin’ round even Destroyers have a price!” isn’t one of the most cathartic rock moments since Daltrey’s scream at the end of “Won’t Get Fooled Again”.)

I love this band. I hope that’s clear.

Thus it pains me to say that their latest release, Twin Cinema is just a woeful misstep for these folks. Oh, it starts off well enough: the opening title track is fantastic, and the wonderfully odd “The Bones Of An Idol” give the new disc a great one-two kickoff. From there things just…drift. “Use It”, “Jackie, Dressed In Cobras”, and especially “These Are The Fables” are just (I hate to say it) awful. When a record makes me think of Trevor Horne-era Yes, well, that isn’t a good thing.

Now, my own bullheadedness would probably have me listening to this mess of a record over and over and over again in futile attempts to get it, but I don’t have to. I’ve heard the most brilliant pop album to come out of Canada, thanks to a musically astute internet friend’s recommendation. If you like the New Pornographers, and wish they’d, you know…ROCK a little more, have I got a band for you: Novillero!

It can’t be easy to kick a lot of ass when your six-piece band is dressed in matching matador outfits, but damned if this Winnipeg group doesn’t pull it off wonderfully. To start out with, they do rock one hell of a lot harder than the NP’s–but they also rock out to tremendously catchy hooks and musical phrases, and their songs show a craftsmanship that I usually only see in the music of a guy like…Carl Newman. The new Novillero album, Aim Right For The Holes In Their Lives might be my favorite album of the year so far.

With what should be a full-time horn section in place, Novillero rocks like crazy. They also show off a ton of classic soul moves, and if they wanna claim to be mod-popsters (“mod soul power”, their website exclaims), who am I to naysay it? These songs have a punchy bounce to them that is utterly classic in the way it’s carried off.

As if that wasn’t enough, these Manitoba boys have something to say. Opening your album with the line “The laissez-faire system is not quite working out/The focus is too much on the gains and the losses” and then follows with a chorus of “And I pose the solution/Maybe more regulation” takes guts. Hell, the song could be about as fun as someone reading a macro-economic textbook written by Noam Chomsky…except on “Laissez Faire”, you can totally shake your ass and dance like crazy; when they get to the final coda and just start chanting that opening line over and over again, you’ll feel like you’ve died and gone to Gang Of Four heaven.

That wonderful opener does nothing to prepare you for the sonic onslaught of “The Hypothesist”. Building off a deceptive piano figure and snare, after the first verse seemingly from out of left field, what sounds very like the Memphis Horns or Rumour Brass comes crashing into the proceedings and then sticks around for many of the disc’s remaining 12 cuts.

It is very rare to stumble upon a record from an unknown band that literally has no weak songs, but here you go. Right now, I couldn’t get “Morally Deficient Business”, “Gaining Ground/Losing Sight”, or “Habit Over Heart” outta my brain if I was trying. Aim Right For The Holes In Their Lives comes highly recommended. If you’re in the States, the only way to get a copy is to download it from iTunes…or send away to Mint Records in Vancouver.

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