WBEZ | indie rock http://www.wbez.org/tags/indie-rock Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Tame Impala rises above http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2012-10/tame-impala-rises-above-103369 <p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/1tame.jpg" style="height: 454px; width: 640px;" title="" /></div><p>Building from the sparse beginning of an oddly percolating heartbeat rhythm and a barely discernable whispered mantra (&ldquo;Gotta be above it, gotta be above it&hellip;&rdquo;), presumably voiced by bandleader Kevin Parker, to waves of undulating synthesizer, layers of heavily affected guitars and the barely more expansive but more assertively delivered lines, &ldquo;Know that I gotta be above it now/And I can&rsquo;t let them all just let bring me down,&rdquo; Australia&rsquo;s Tame Impala sets the agenda for its second album on the opening track, &ldquo;Be Above It.&rdquo;</p><p>The music goal, as with all great psychedelic rock, is to take the listener on a journey to alien worlds&mdash;sometimes beguiling, sometimes inscrutable but always wildly imaginative. The lyrics, meanwhile, seek to transcend the everyday in that fabled journey toward what ol&rsquo; Aldous Huxley called &ldquo;the white light.&rdquo;</p><p>What, exactly, is Tame Impala trying to rise above? Well, to borrow from Brando in &ldquo;The Wild One&rdquo;: &ldquo;Whaddaya got?&quot;</p><p>Don&rsquo;t let a skepticism of psychedelic mysticism or a wariness of a genre so consistently if not entirely fairly associated with the halcyon Sixties scare you off, however. For all the historic touchstones, starting with Parker&rsquo;s vocal commonalities with &ldquo;Strawberry Fields Forever&rdquo; John Lennon and ending with Dave &ldquo;Flaming Lips/Mercury Rev&rdquo; Fridmann&rsquo;s delightfully <em>The Piper at the Gates of Dawn </em>approach to mixing what Parker recorded at home and on the road, the band succeeds (as all of the best in this genre do) because it never neglects the second half of the psychedelic-rock equation: delivering memorable, hard-driving songs that worm their way into your consciousness and more than stand on their own without the trippy filigree of the arrangements, instrumentation and production.</p><p>&nbsp;&ldquo;I surrendered to temptation and desire to make an album that is really f---ed up,&rdquo; Parker has said of the new disc. &ldquo;But I also have a desire to sound like Britney Spears. I love pop music and bad plastics.&rdquo; He&rsquo;s also mentioned that he&rsquo;s written an album&rsquo;s worth of songs that are ready and waiting for Kylie Minogue. Hearing the appeal of any such pop diva in these 13 tracks is pretty difficult; on the other hand, just try to get the central hooks of songs such as &ldquo;Feels Like We Only Go Backwards,&rdquo; &ldquo;Apocalypse Dreams,&rdquo; &ldquo;Why Won&rsquo;t They Talk to Me&rdquo; or &ldquo;Music to Walk Home By&rdquo; out of your head after the first listen.</p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/1alonerism_0.jpg" title="" /></div><p><strong>Tame Impala, <em>Lonerism </em>(Modular Records)</strong></p><p><strong>Rating on the four-star scale: 3.5 stars.</strong></p></p> Wed, 24 Oct 2012 09:38:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2012-10/tame-impala-rises-above-103369 Grizzly Bear broadens its horizons http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2012-10/grizzly-bear-broadens-its-horizons-103173 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><br /><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/2Grizzly.jpg" style="width: 640px;" title="" /></div></div><p>Though you can&rsquo;t deny the baroque-pop craftsmanship of earlier efforts &mdash; full of elaborate and often gorgeous sonic constructions that some compared to Van Dyke Parks and others to a campfire Radiohead &mdash; Grizzly Bear sometimes was undone by its own precious cleverness and hipster emotional detachment on its first three records, including the 2009 breakthrough <em>Veckatimest. </em>Yet you ventured that opinion at considerable risk of poking the bear&rsquo;s beyond-devoted fans &mdash; just check out the rabid snarl of the comments on my <a href="http://blogs.suntimes.com/music/2009/05/grizzly_bear_veckatimest_2_sta.html">two-star review of that album</a>.</p><p>The super-fans have been out to maul again when any critic has suggested that part of the success of album number four, a laborious three years in the making, is the select injection of a little Coldplay here and there, most notably on &ldquo;Yet Again&rdquo; and &ldquo;A Simple Answer.&rdquo; But that&rsquo;s just snobbishness. Boston-to-Brooklyn transplant Edward Droste and his three bandmates always needed a well-placed hint of arena-rock stomp and grandeur to balance the more fragile, claustrophobic and prissy passages &mdash; a little pop to balance the prog, if you will &mdash; and <em>Shields </em>benefits from it the way the right Super 8 film would if instead it was shot for Imax.</p><p>Grizzly Bear has hardly&nbsp;abandoned its fascination with melancholy moods and complex, sometimes serpentine sound structures, and Droste&rsquo;s plaintive voice still reminds me of Jeff Buckley at his most slippery. But the more straightforward drive of the best songs here (with much of the credit going to drummer Chris Bear for his wide dynamic range and broad percussive palette), the slightly more accessible lyrical musings of Droste and fellow songwriter Dan Rossen (they&rsquo;ve said they collaborated more on this album, shooting to be more immediate or&mdash;their word&mdash;&ldquo;sloppy&rdquo;) and that aforementioned embrace of a more expansive, more rocking approach all are for the best.</p><p>The band doesn&rsquo;t always succeed; &ldquo;What&rsquo;s Wrong&rdquo; and the closing &ldquo;Sun in Your Eyes&rdquo; are abject failures, so Byzantine they&rsquo;re just coldly alienating. Yet when the band does connect, as on the aforementioned &quot;Yet Again&quot; and &ldquo;A Simple Answer&rdquo; or the even more hard-hitting &ldquo;Speak in Rounds&rdquo; and the buoyant &ldquo;Gun-Shy,&rdquo; it never has sounded better.</p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/1Grizzly.jpeg" style="height: 640px; width: 640px;" title="" /></div><p><strong>Grizzly Bear, <em>Shields</em> (Warp Records)</strong></p><p><strong>Rating on the four-star scale: 3 stars.</strong></p></p> Tue, 16 Oct 2012 14:39:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2012-10/grizzly-bear-broadens-its-horizons-103173