Jun 17, 2011

Best Albums of 2011: January-June

The halfway point of the year is just about upon us, so what better time than now to look back on what the first had on offer? Looking back over the list of albums I've heard this year so far, 126 at last count, I was surprised by just how many I'd classify in the great-to-excellent category. Sure, there were a few duds here and there (White Lies, Lupe Fiasco, Ulver - I'm looking at you guys), but overall I've been really pleased with what I've heard this year. So here's a list, in no particular order beyond alphabetical, of the twenty-five best albums I've heard in the first six months of the year.

Battles - Gloss Drop (Warp)
While I didn't find this to pack the initial visceral punch that the excellent Mirrored did, this is nonetheless a thrilling album that finds Battles recovering nicely from the departure of Tyondai Braxton. This is a playful, vibrant bunch of songs with an energy level that never flags, bolstered by some great guest vocals turns by the likes of Gary Numan and Yamantaka Eye of Boredoms. The Matais Aguayo fronted "Ice Cream" is a bit too silly though, representing the only minor misstep on an otherwise winning album.

Black Lips - Arabian Mountain (Vice)
This record has only been out for a couple of weeks, but its already more than earned a spot on this list. I've been a fan of these garage rockers since 2005's Let It Bloom, but I've found their last two highly-hyped records to be a little too hit-or-miss. With the help of celebrity producer Mark Ronson (who really adapted himself well to the band's vibe), they knocked this one out of the park by loading it with 100% killer tunes from start to finish. If this record doesn't give them the wider attention they deserve, well, maybe people don't deserve these guys.

Crystal Stilts - In Love With Oblivion (Slumberland)
These guys came to my attention with their Slumberland full-length debut a couple years ago, although they were overshadowed, in my mind, by the excellent work of labelmates The Pains of Being Pure of Heart. This, their sophomore LP, is a marked improvement thanks to the band's slight swerve off into unexpectedly darker, murkier directions. Lead singer Brad Hargett is still the big draw (and stumbling block for many detractors), but you'll stay for the dense, menacing atmosphere that breathes new life into a band that was in danger of trends passing them by.

Destroyer - Kaputt (Merge)
I've really enjoyed watching Dan Bejar evolve his Destroyer project over the years, particularly as he's expanded his scope and vision by incorporating elements of midi-pop, jazz, and prog. For those that didn't pay attention to the EPs he released between Trouble In Dreams and this one, the headfirst dive into 1980s sophistipop may have been a bit of a shock. Steely Dan and yacht rock may not be the most obvious of reference points in 2011, but Bejar wisely uses them as a launchpad rather than a crutch, birthing one of 2011's most engaging albums in the process.

E-40 - Revenue Retrievin': Graveyard Shift / Overtime Shift (Heavy on Grind)
E-40 quietly spent the last two decades cementing his legendary reputation as one of the best lyricists in hi-hop, even as he watched newcomers rise and fall around him. His hardworking grind served him well when he dropped the first two stunning entries in the Revenue Retrievin' series last year. While it was a surprise to hear that he had another two(!) full albums worth of material to drop a mere twelve months later, it was an even bigger surprise to find out they were just as good as the first pair. If you've been sleeping on E-40 all this time, for whatever reason, you've know got four essential albums to pick up. And how many other rappers can say that over an entire career, let alone within twelve months?

Fleet Foxes - Helplessness Blues (Sub Pop)
The pressure on Robin Pecknold and his band to equal their breakthrough debut album was so intense that they apparently had to scrap one recording session and completely start over. While I hate to with that intensity level on any musician I love, it sounds like it may have paid off this time around. By reaching further back into their parents' dusty record collections to spend time with CSN&Y and English folk, Fleet Foxes have given us a folk-pop epic record, the kinds of which we haven't seen in a long time. Other, less well-known bands have managed to hit on one essential piece of the folk-pop puzzle over the years (Midlake and Espers come immediately to mind), but none have done it as effortlessly as these guys have.

Friendly Fires - Pala (XL)
The first real surprise of 2011 as far as I'm concerned. I liked the singles off of their 2008 self-titled debut well enough, but I found myself returning to the Aeroplane remix of "Paris" more than anything off the record itself. I almost didn't buy this follow-up, but fortunately I came across a copy at a great price. This is exactly the dance-pop record that Cut Copy promised, but only partially delivered on. New Order gets thrown out a lot as an influence to any band that incorporates big basslines and dance beats, but in this case the descriptor is more than apt. An unexpected pleasure, to be sure.

Fucked Up - David Comes to Life (Matador)
A punk rock concept album. If that phrase has you cringing while visions of Green Day pop into your head, fear not, this is a far more intelligent, engrossing, and visceral punk rock concept album than anything else you've heard before. Those who have paid attention to Fucked Up as they've evolved already know they are capable of great things, but this puts the band on a whole new level. Not only is their trademark slash-and-burn all over this record, but there are some surprisingly huge hooks and pop gems. It isn't necessary to engage with this as a whole, the individual songs really are that strong, but the fact that is all coalesces into a coherent, exciting, and meta story makes it even all the more thrilling.

Gang Gang Dance - Eye Contact (4AD)
It's been interesting to witness Gang Gang Dance's slow evolution to the band they've become for this, their 4AD debut. To the delight (and chagrin) of many fans, the band's sound has grown more and more "accessible" with each release and this is certainly no exception. In fact, Eye Contact is easily the most listener friendly thing they've ever done. Which doesn't mean they've abandoned the delightful synthy and spacey explorations of albums prior, it just means they're more likely to get stuck in your ear (just check out "Adult Goth" if you don't believe me).

The Gates of Slumber - The Wretch (Metal Blade)
These crushing Indiana metalheads return to their doom roots with this one, toning down the traditional heavy metal nods of the previous two records to great results. This is a ferocious, rip-roaring album from beginning to end, playing to each and every one of the band's strengths. If you need some straightforward doom in your life, do yourself a favor and throw this thick slab of it into your player and get stomped.

Nicolas Jaar - Space is Only Noise (Circus Company)
Its a damn shame this gem is going to be overlooked this year, thanks to the overshadowing hype of the two other boy producer wunderkinds, James Blake and Jamie Woon, because this effortlessly outclasses either album by the other two. To be fair, Jaar is obviously exploring different territory than his peers and not aiming for pop success, but his explorations make for a far more engaging listen. Expertly weaving a rich tapestry of sample sources, jazz meanderings, and playful programming, this will be an album that envelops you.

The Joy Formidable - The Big Roar (Atlantic)
The 90s alternative rock revival has been hinted at for the last couple of years, as retro-minded bands flipped through their record collections and pulled out the early 90s shoegaze and indie pop kings for a closer look. This North Wales trio skips all that bedroom stuff though, and aims right for 1994 and 1995, when alt-rock ruled the airwaves thanks to bands like Smashing Pumpkins. In fact that particular band comes up frequently in reference to The Joy Formidable, but for good reason. Lead singer and guitarist Ritzy Bryan isn't afraid to rip off a blistering guitar solo right in the middle of an otherwise tame indie-pop tune, much like obvious inspiration Billy Corgan. Bryan's sweet vocals play nicely off the overdriven, guitar-based attack, making this an obvious choice for those of you missing the glory days of alt-rock radio.

KEN Mode - Venerable (Profound Lore)
Speaking of 90s throwbacks, here is another band that reaches back to the Clinton decade, but from a far different end than the radio-friendly approach of The Joy Formidable. Canadian's KEN Mode take inspiration from the metallic post-hardcore era bands like Botch and Converge birthed (this album is, coincidentally, produced by Converge's Kurt Ballou), an era that is often imitated but rarely improved upon. KEN Mode, however, manages to add another worthy entry in the canon with their throat-shredding, pummeling attack.

Krallice - Diotima (Profound Lore)
When guitar shredders Mick Barr (Orthrelm, Ocrilim) and Colin Marston (Dysrhythmia, Behold... The Arctopus) originally formed Krallice in New York City back in 2008, it seemed like just another in a long series of exiting projects involving the pair. But as Krallice has evolved into a full-time concern, it has evolved into one of the most essential and consistently jaw-dropping black metal bands in the United States. This third full-length is the most dynamic yet, with Marston and Barr tightening their approach to the point of even plowing ahead on the same riff at times, relying less on the complex interplay of records past and more on the subtle impact of focus. If you haven't been yet, it's time to start paying attention to one of America's most essential metal bands.

Lady Gaga - Born This Way (Interscope)
It seems to be increasingly rare in this ever-fractured world of our when one of the biggest-hyped and over-saturated pop albums of the year also ends up being one of its best, but that is exactly the case with Gaga's latest. The uplifting anthem "Born This Way" and the eighties montage scoring "The Edge of Glory" are both inescapable and inexplicably great, but they represent just the tip of the iceberg here. Plowing through styles, influences, and fads, Gaga has given her monsters a massive case of pop overload. Given her level of fame, this isn't exactly a surprise, but what is, is just how fun so many of these songs are. From the Mutt Lange produced "You and I" (that steals more than a little bit of Shania swag) to the German technopop of "Schei├če", Gaga is having her cake and eating it too. If you are looking originality, this isn't it. But if you want to maximize your fun around the pool this summer, this will be your jam.

Lykke Li - Wounded Rhymes (Atlantic)
While both "Little Bit" and "I'm Good, I'm Gone" received frequent spins around here, I never completely embraced the debut album by this Swedish darling. I found Youth Novels to be nice enough, but I didn't seem to be as won over by her as the rest of the internet. But by the time I finished my second play of this, her sophomore disc, she had won me over for good. Wounded Rhymes is packed with pop hooks and brilliant ides, each of its ten tracks is a pure joy to listen to, from the sexually empowering "Get Some" to oddly endearing "Sadness is a Blessing". I can know see that Li was deserving of all of the accolades and now I can't wait to see where she goes next.

Liturgy - Aesthetica (Thrill Jockey)
The reception this album has been getting all over the internet nicely illustrates one of the most frustrating aspects of the metal fan community in 2011. Because these guys come from Brooklyn and are signed to legendary indie label Thrill Jockey, Liturgy is being routinely dismissed and ignored as not being "true" metal and labelled a bunch of dilettante hipsters dabbling in music they don't have a right to be into. Which, beyond being the exact type of elitist crap that turns people off of new bands, is completely ridiculous. Aesthetica finds Hunter Hunt-Hendrix (originally the sole figure behind Liturgy) using black metal as a launching point, but pushing it into entirely new directions. Anyone dismissing these guys as "false" or "hipster" metal is, in addition to being willfully stupid, missing out on the second best United States black metal-influenced album of the year (behind the Krallice).

Mars Classroom - New Theory of Everything (Happy Jack)
By this point, it is no longer noteworthy that Robert Pollard is still cranking out songs, albums, and side projects at a prolific rate. So far in 2011 he has released two albums under his own name, one under the resurrected Lifeguards project with Doug Gillard, and this one, a brand new collaboration with guitarist Gary Waleik of Big Dipper and Bob Beerman of instrumental rockers Pell Mell. This resulting album is chock full of jangly indie-pop tunes anchored by Beerman's drums and brightened by Waleik's angular guitar work. Pollard's been on a bit of a winning streak over the last few years, but this injects even more fresh blood into his body of work and makes for the most fun front-to-back listen of his four so far this year.

Moon Duo - Mazes (Sacred Bones)
Between this, his side project with keyboardist Sanae Yamada, and his main band Wooden Shjips, Eric "Ripley" Johnson has been busy putting out some of the best kraut-inspired experimental rock this side of Berlin over the past couple of years. Considering an impressive back catalog that includes killer records like Dos and Escape, it really means something to say that Mazes just might be the best one yet. By toning down the exploratory meanderings of the Shjips and incorporating an easy-going vibe, Johnson and Yamada show off an entirely new groove for fans of psychedelic pop.

The Pains of Being Pure at Heart - Belong (Slumberland)
The Pains of Being Pure at Heart burst onto the scene two years ago with a thrilling debut record that harkened back to the glory days of C86 indie-pop bands, you could just hear the chunky glasses and faded cardigans in the twee-inspired lyrics and hummable choruses. It wasn't particularly original, but the tunes were impossible to deny and the band's entire approach was utterly endearing on songs like "Young Adult Friction" and "A Teenager in Love". This time around they've broadened their sound, drenching the lovelorn tunes in feedback and distortion, recalling early 90s shoegaze and the arena-filling rock of the Smashing Pumpkins. Which makes sense, considering this was produced by Flood and mixed by Alan Moulder (the brains behind Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness). Its a great look for these kids.

Ringo Deathstarr - Colour Trip (Sonic Unyon)
And, speaking of shoegaze, I've yet to hear a better My Bloody Valentine imitation than the sound of the guitars that open the lead track here, "Imagine Hearts". Countless bands have, over the last two decades, claimed that they are channeling the spirit of MBV, but those guitars are the closest I've heard. Fortunately the rest of the song is just as good. It may sound dismissive, but I like to consider Ringo Deathstarr as "record collection rock". In other words, they're a band with their influences on their sleeves, but fortunately they weave them together in such a way as to avoid rote imitation. But with influences as great as MBV, Jesus and Mary Chain, A Place to Bury Strangers, The Smiths and The Cure, you realize that sometimes comforting nostalgia can be plain old fun.

The Skull Defekts - Peer Amid (Thrill Jockey)
I have to admit that this record was my first exposure to these Swedish post-punk inspired noise rockers, but it was good enough that I immediately went out and picked up their two previous records. This made for an interesting entry point, because this record marks the first made with former Lungfish vocalist Daniel Higgs. Taut with nervous energy, Peer Amid bounces and roils through extended drones, wiry attacks, and hypnotic rhythms. If you enjoy stuff on the noisier end of the post-punk spectrum (The Ex, knottier versions of The Fall), do yourself a favor and seek this out.

Smith Westerns - Dye It Blonde (Fat Possum)
These Chicago kids made a big splash with their self-titled debut, thrashing and riffing through garage-inspired rock that put the "lo" in "lo-fi". Much like fellow Midwesterners Times New Viking, Smith Westerns buried their pop gems in layers and layers of fuzz and distortion, making it all the more worthwhile when you pulled the hooks out of the mire. Thankfully, they decided to not make you work so hard for the payoff this time around. The youthful exuberance is still in full force, but these songs have been given the old spit and polish and gussied up with more than a little glam stomp that would make Marc Bolan sit up and take notice. One of the sunniest garage-pop records of the year.

tUnE-yArDs - w h o k i l l (4AD)
It takes a really fantastic record to overcome a horrible band name that looks like a MySpace casualty circa 2006 and a marketing campaign that ticks off precious hipster signifiers left and right. I'd been purposely avoiding anything to do with this band since they started getting buzz for 2009's BiRd-BrAiNs, but a well written New Yorker piece by Sasha Frere-Jones made me question that decision. It turns out that Merrill Garbus, the woman behind tUnE-yArDs, had a lot more going for her than I was willing to admit. This is the sort of intelligent, well-written, engrossing pop that only comes around so often. Often built around self-made instrumental loops the musical beds are engrossing enough on their own, but when Garbus uses her stunning vocals to sing about issues of race, gender, and body image, this stuff more than proves its worth.

Zombi - Escape Velocity (Relapse)
Synth and drum duo Steve Moore and Anthony Paterra have quietly built up a serious following over the past decade as some of America's finest purveyors of instrumental music. Taking equal inspiration from classic horror soundtracks, progressive rock, metal drumming, ambient, and krautrock, Zombi crank out epic zoned-out track after epic zoned-out track. This time around they're leaning a little more heavily on the synth-end of things, adding a healthy dose of Giorgio Moroder to the mix, resulting in a spacy, minimal groove that will soundtrack your next neon-lit job around the space station.

Jun 7, 2011

My Somewhat Complicated Relationship with Elbow

While I was poring over some construction documents at work this afternoon I found myself in a very familiar predicament, wondering what to listen to next. I scrolled through my iPod library and plenty of worthy candidates flashed in front of me, but my eyes kept returning to something that I didn't think I really wanted to hear - Elbow's Build A Rocket Boys. Wondering if this was some sort of sign, I went ahead and clicked play, even as I was being mightily tempted by that free Enslaved EP from a couple months ago. And, I really enjoyed hearing it again. A couple of the songs clicked a little more with me ("The River", "Jesus is a Rochdale Girl") and made me like the album just a bit more than I did yesterday.

Now, I can just bet you are wondering why I'm taking the time to describe a relatively rote reaction to a situation I must face quite frequently. Well, you see, as I was thinking about this Elbow album a little more, I realized just how symptomatic that particular encounter was of my entire relationship with the band. I like them, lots at times. I own all five of their studio albums, the last four of which I have purchased the week of release. I always enjoy listening to them when I put them on. But here's where the weird bit comes in. I don't find myself reaching for their albums often. In fact, I frequently catch myself passing them over as I scroll through my library because I'm "so not in the mood for THAT right now". I'm absolutely certain that I've listened to their albums less frequently than I have albums by artists I know, on the whole, I like a lot less than Elbow. I would never claim them as a "favorite band". I would never quite say that I "love" them. However, I also know that if I were to pull the trigger and fire up one of their albums, I wouldn't complain in the least and would, in time, find myself completely absorbed.

This may not seem particularly odd to some of you, but I find this to be a really weird relationship with a band that I've been following for nearly a decade now. One easy explanation may be that I have this relationship with Elbow because they aren't a particularly easy band to love. They don't often load their songs with hummable, or immediately memorable, hooks. It often takes multiple listens to be drawn in. Fair points each, but I listen to a hell of a lot of other artists guilty on both counts. And usually I'll either dismiss them out of hand, or find myself wrapped up and in love with the artist in question. I don't do that with Elbow though. I listen once, then file the record back on the shelf for later. I never feel like starting the album over again as soon as the last track fades to silence. I don't go through obsessive phases with them, even when they release a new album. But, why?

I'm afraid I don't have any easy answer here, behind thinking that Elbow have become the aural equivalent of comfort food. I don't often feel the urge to seek it out, but once I let it into my system I realize that I've kinda missed it. But once the meals over, I feel content and realize that I probably won't need it again. And, that's okay. Not all of the music I listen to needs to provoke a visceral reaction or kickstart an obsessive love affair. Its good to have a few bands lying around your collection that do little more than fill a particular slot. They aren't the bands you get passionate about, you might not put them on any mixtapes, they don't end up in the high slots on your year-end lists, but that doesn't mean they don't serve a very important purpose. I'm okay with my complicated Elbow relationship. I'm glad I have them around.

What bands do you feel this way about?

Jun 2, 2011

Listening Soundtrack 05.26.11-06.02.11

Okay, I totally stole this idea from Pretty Goes With Pretty (a great blog from the dude that wrote the excellent Slint 33 1/3 book), but I liked the approach. Being an architect, I'm a visual person and I thought it would be interesting to see a collage of the albums I listened to over the last week rather than just a lost of words.

Death Cab For Cutie - Codes and Keys
Swans - My Father Will Guide Me Up a Rope to the Sky
My Morning Jacket - Circuital
Friendly Fires - Friendly Fires
Avantasia - The Wicked Symphony
Faust - Faust IV
Friendly Fires - Pala (2)
Avantasia - Angel of Babylon
Boris - Attention Please
The Feelies - Crazy Rhythms
Pere Ubu - The Modern Dance
Lady Gaga - Born This Way [Deluxe Edition] (3)
Art Brut - Brilliant! Tragic! (3)
Coldplay - Viva La Vida
Mogwai - Hardcore Will Never Die... But You Will
Thursday - No Devolucion (2)
The Kills - Blood Pressures
Michael Grimm - Michael Grimm
Lindstrom - Where You Go I Go Too
Blood Ceremony - Living with the Ancients
Trap Them - Darker Handcraft
Weekend Nachos - Worthless
Red Fang - Murder the Mountains
Tyler, the Creator - Goblin [Deluxe Edition]

Jun 1, 2011

Catching Up and Record Shopping Haul Report

Yes, this blog has lain dormant far too long and, again, the usual culprits of real life are to blame. Some days there isn't enough time to go around and, quite honestly, this blog is the first to get set on the back burner when push comes to shove. Anyway, I do have another project in the works that I hope to bring to the light of day very soon, so please stay tuned for that.

In the meantime, I just got back from a well-deserved break with family in Michigan. In addition to the relaxing and general hanging around, I was able to squeeze in a little bit of record shopping in a couple of my favorite stores in Ann Arbor (namely, Wazoo and Underground Sounds). Here's what I bought and some early thoughts. The drive home from Detroit this afternoon gave me plenty of time to dive into the pile.

Pere Ubu - The Modern Dance (DGC)
This has long been on my "to purchase" list, but I'm glad I was able to finally come across a reasonably priced copy that allowed me to pull the trigger. I knew I'd heard "Non-Alignment Pact" before, as well as several others I couldn't have recalled by name, but I was a little astonished how familiar the whole thing felt. These guys are an obvious touchstone for a lot of bands mining the post-punk vein over the past thirty plus years and it is easy to see why, these guys crammed a lot of ideas into this release. I'm ready to dig further into their catalog.

The Feelies - Crazy Rhythms (Bar None)
Full disclosure, I (ahem) downloaded a copy of this a few years ago when I was broke and having trouble locating the reissue so I'm not entirely new to this, but I am thrilled to finally have a copy of my own. This reissue sounds great, so much better than whatever had sourced my original download, and it really is one of those timeless albums. After such a crisp, clear listen, I'm starting to wonder why this one doesn't pop up on any lists of great guitar albums, because Bill Million and Glenn Mercer absolutely kill it all over this record.

Boris - Attention Please (Sargent House)
One of the two new albums Boris released in May, this was hotly tipped to be the more experimental of the two, finding the trio pushing their sound in a few unexpected directions. After an initial listen I can confirm that this is very much true and while quite a few purists are decrying the band for swinging to (gasp!) dance-pop and away from their trademarked low-end sludge and crawl, I'm so far finding this much more interesting than the awkwardly titled Heavy Rocks (not to be confused with the 2002 Boris album with a completely different tracklist), which seems to be more of the same old same old. I'm actually glad to have both approaches, because while you can't ever tire of Boris up to their usual tricks, it is great to hear them have a little fun too.

Art Brut - Brilliant! Tragic! (Cooking Vinyl/The End)
If you think too deeply about it, its kind of crazy to think that we are actually seeing a fourth album from Eddie Argos and company, considering how narrow their whole shtick was back when the debut came out. Don't get me wrong, it was a great schtick. Not only was Bang Bang Rock N Roll a fantastic album, they were an absolute blast live. It's a Bit Complicated, album number two, despite a few bright spots, only fed into the fears of a short lifespan for the band, finding them blandly rehashing some ideas from the first and unwisely attempting to mature in weird new directions. Album number three, however, was a definite contender for that whole "return to form" thing we always here so much about, a fun, funny and often affecting disc. So how does number four stack up? After two listens, I'm afraid it seems to fall closer to It's a Bit Complicated than either of the other two pillars of their catalog. There are certainly some charming winners here ("Bad Comedian", "Martin Kemp Welch Five-A-Side Football Rules", "Axl Rose"), but the attempts at stretching out can sometimes fall flat. I love the concept behind "Sexy Sometimes", a singer with a not-so-great voice expresses his desire to soundtrack a sexy cocktail party and woo the woman of his dreams, but it lacks the spark of the better moments. But two of the longer tracks actually wind up pretty well. "Is Dog Eared" is a great ode to being misunderstood and finding love in (and with) fiction, while "Ice Hockey" is a sweet little tune about saying goodbye. Maybe this will grow on me though, because the more I think about the individual tracks, the more I want to hear them all over again. A good sign.

Friendly Fires - Pala (XL Recordings)
This was one of the real surprises of the bunch so far. I picked this up on a whim, mostly because I still love the Aeroplane remix of "Paris" off their debut. I was really surprised by how much I loved the whole thing. I've always found bands that mine this dance-pop formula to be wildly hit or miss, but these guys know what they are doing. There are some obvious touchstones sprinkled throughout - I hear more than a little disco, Daft Punk, and New Order sprinkled liberally throughout, but never enough to distract or make it feel at all like a game of spot the influences. I need to spend more time with this, but sitting here a few hours later, I can name, off the top of my head, about five tracks I would wholeheartedly recommend - "Blue Cassette", "Hawaiian Air", "Pull Me Back To Earth", "Hurting" and the title track. A pleasant surprise.

Faust - Faust IV (EMI)
Another one that was, surprisingly, completely new to me. I've long been a fan of krautrock and krautrock-indebted bands, stretching all the way from Can and Neu! to Secret Machines and Wooden Shjips, but Faust has been one of those founders of the genre (literally in one way, the lead track on this thing named the genre) that I never spent time with. Its hard to grasp everything that is going on here with one listen, but I'm really kicking myself for not diving in sooner. The opener mentioned above is mesmerizing from the start, a series of drones and feedback hypnotizing for seven full minutes before (no hyperbole, one of the greatest moments of recorded music I've ever heard here...) the drums kick in and set the controls for the heart of the groove. Yes Virginia, this is EXACTLY the kind of thing that genres can and should be named for. The rest ain't too shabby either, finding the band playing with pop, noise, and groove in near equal parts.