Thursday, November 8, 2012

Band Wars--More Matchups

Well, here's to the Democrats absolutely destroying the Party of Almost Dead White Guys this year.  The best part is that the Republican party doesn't seem to realize that it is, indeed, dying.  In the recent election, not a single person under the age of 94 voted Republican.  That's right, everyone else voted Democrat.  I saw that on the Internet somewhere.

And now, with politics out of the way, we move on to another round of band wars.

Once we finish these two matchups, we'll officially have reviewed half of the albums competing this time around.

Anyhoo, in matchup #1 we pit

Guided by Voices, Class Clown Spots a UFO

Pitchfork review; Allmusic review


Twin Shadow, Confess

Pitchfork review; Allmusic review

These two bands--and albums--are different in so many ways.  Guided by Voices has a rougher, garage sound.  At its worst, their albums sound like they were recorded poorly, so that the album sounds like it was recorded on a tape deck.  (With Bee Thousand, their best album, maybe it was.)  This album sounds cleaner than many of their previous ones.  Aside from that, GBV's sound is fairly standard indie rock.

Here's the best song from this album, the title track:

Then you have Twin Shadow.  Confess is one of the slickest sounding albums that I have ever heard.  He imitates eighties musicians.  Now, according to and, this imitation--and the slickness of his music--are both a good thing.  Here's "Five Seconds."  I think you'll see what I mean.

I don't know.  What do you think?  Because my feeling is that although GBV's album is far from one of their best--yes, this is another group that peaked in a past decade--this album by Twin Shadow is absolute crap . . . unless you want to use it as an example of bad music, in which case it provides an excellent example.  The video for "Five Seconds" above is about the only thing in the world that seems more annoying than listening to the song "Five Seconds."  Twin Shadow took all of the pop eighties music he could get his hands on.  With it, he crafted more pop eighties tunes.  My question: Who the fuck wants to hear pop eighties tunes?  If the answer is a guilty yes, then why not buy Prince's greatest hits?  You'll be far better off.

But who am I?  Not a music reviewer, surely.  I'm probably wrong, and the pros are probably right.

Still, Band Wars belongs to me.  Even though the other reviewers label Twin Shadow's Confess as "Best New Music," I'm sticking with Guided by Voices.

So far, this was the weakest of all of the matchups.

In another pairing, we see

Bob Mould, Silver Age

Pitchfork review; Allmusic review

going up against

DIIV, Oshin

Pitchfork review; Allmusic review

Bob Mould has been around for a long time.  A long, long time.  He's making solo albums these days, but if you enjoy Silver Age, which is quite good, then I recommend that you go back and start looking into his earlier band named Husker Du.  They pumped out a lot of good, harder rocking indie tunes.

Silver Age is really not much different.  Many of the songs are excellent.  It's a relief to hear a band rocking out as much as this one does, in light of the recent trend of whispery, almost apologetic indie albums clogging up the Innerwebs.

For example, try "The Descent."

Then there's DIIV's Oshin.  As I was listening to this album, I kept wondering, Where have I heard these songs before?  I couldn't figure it out, and it was driving me nuts.  Then finally it hit me: they sound just like Real Estate (except not as good).  You know the sound.  Summery guitar-jangling tunes with mellow vocals and the slightest--or strongest--hint of surf music.  Music to play for car trips, picnics, or general flights of nostalgia.  Here's "Doused."

The music-review websites would have this appear to be a tough choice.  Allmusic favors Bob Mould; Pitchfork gives its stronger review to DIIV.

In this case, I'm siding with Allmusic.  After I checked out Silver Age, I immediately hopped online and started downloading the old Husker Du albums that I hadn't yet listened to.  I thought, How could I have forgotten about this guy?  Which I suppose was part of his goal in releasing his new album.

As for DIIV, the album is pretty good.  Just not as good as anything Bob Mould would ever put out.

And now for the updated brackets:

So, halfway done with the first round.  Looking forward to the next set of matchups, I'm excited about seeing if the Walkmen, one of my favorite bands, can advance.  I also get the feeling looking at the as-yet-untested bands that the right side of both brackets above seem significantly better than the bands on the left side.  In particular, the bottom right section of the lower bracket above seems far and away the strongest.  Four Tet, Grizzly Bear, Matthew Dear, and Hot Chip are all indie powerhouses.  All four are strong contenders to win the competition, yet they're all stuck in the same section, so obviously only one of those bands can get through the first two rounds.


  1. as for the Twin Shadow - yes 100% 80's
    And while I love the 80's I'd probably have to listen to this album 10-15 times over before actually getting into it.
    The bad news is that it kinda sucks (at first listen).
    The good news is that if I put this on while cleaning I'd feel like I was in a Montage!

  2. I'm not sure if I'll make it to 10-15 listens. But maybe I didn't give him enough of a chance. I've certainly made that mistake before.