Now is a better time than any to start a new round of band wars. In this post, I'll cover two matchups, one from each division of 16. Before I begin though, I made a couple of changes. First, I dropped out one of the two Mount Eerie albums, because I don't have it. Thought I did, but didn't. Second, I replaced the band The Motion Sickness of Time Travel, a decent band, with a new release by Tame Impala, which has been getting glowing reviews. I think that these changes will lead to a new and improved competition.
So without further ado, here is the first of two matchups.
John Maus, A Collection of Rarities and Previously Unreleased Material
Beach House, Bloom
John Maus plays retro experimental electronic music with a dark sense of humor, as you might guess from songs titled "I Don't Eat Human Beings" and "My Hatred Is Magnificent." In this collection of songs from 1999 until 2010, the earlier tracks seem better than the later ones. Whenever I see an album with "Previously Uncollected" in the title or anything like that, I'm expecting trash songs with a few gems. That holds true to an extent, but there are many more gems that I had expected. Also, the trash songs aren't so trashy--or if they are, they've got some redeeming quality, like funny lyrics. He also sounds like Ian Curtis of Joy Division. Here's "Bennington," probably the best track on the album.
Beach House's Bloom was released to universally sparkling reviews. Pitchfork went so far as to give it 9.1/10, which basically means that the reviewer jizzed his shorts. The thing about Beach House is that their sound does not evolve much from album to album. As they've said in recent interviews, they like where they've ended up and basically don't want to mess with a bad thing. They've got a soaring, neo-psychedelic sound that reminds me in some ways of shoegaze. Here's "Myth."
I surprised myself here. I expected Beach House to win. It was close, by the album by John Maus is just more creative, original, and interesting. So Beach House is an unexpected first-round faceplant.
I imagine that Beach House fans will think this loss is a piece of shit, but let's not forget that band wars is a dictatorship, not a democracy. I pit the bands against one another. Then I toss the loser into the woodchipper.
Anyhoo, our other matchup pits Dan Deacon's America
against Japandroids, Celebration Rock
I should begin by saying that there is disagreement amongst the music review websites about which album is best. Pitchfork votes for Japandroids over Dan Deacon by a score of 8.8 to 7.1, which Allmusic opts for Dan Deacon with 4 1/2 stars to 3 1/2 stars for Japandroids.
Celebration Rock is aptly named. Despite starting and ending with fireworks, they give you rocking party music full of lots of uplifting lyrics. Normally, this is not my cake at all. If you're a fan of Superchunk, then these guys are right up your alley. Here's "The House that Heaven Built."
Dan Deacon's America is a wildly experimental electronic album that, even though it sounds like nothing I've ever heard before, is the type of music that I should really be enjoying. My problem is that it is so freaking active. Allmusic calls the album "impossibly enthusiastic electro-pop." I would emphasize the word impossibly. It's incredible in many ways, but it can get so fucking annoying. I don't want to hear this album again for a long while. I type these lines knowing that I thought the same thing on my first listen of My Bloody Valentine's Loveless, which is now one of my all-time favorite albums. Here is "True Thrush."
Anyhoo, Dan Deacon is DOA. Japandroids advance with a solid, upbeat rocker.
Here are the updated brackets:
More results in the next couple days.