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Sunday, October 01, 2006
  All the Hype: The Decemberists, The Killers, Jet, Beck
tuesday, october 3rd. the big day. the major mentionables include new releases from the Decemberists, the Killers, Jet, and Beck. for the amount of hype that these four albums alone have received, for all the premature praise and excitement and preordered copies and leaked tracks and everything else, does the actual music stand up on its own? is there specific and outstanding merit in these four works that is deserving of the attention given to them? we here at NfT are going to give you our opinion and a small preview with this stipulation: we want to know what you think, too. leave a comment, send us an email, subscribe the the feed, do the thing, do anything to let us know what you think of these albums because, well, we aren't pitchfork, and we're not going to tell you what you're supposed to think - you tell us.

The Decemberists - The Crane Wife

i got this a few weeks ago and immediately forgot that i had it. i never listened to it, never really allowed it to register, never had the realization that it was being pushed to the bottom in a stack of much bigger (in name) releases. when it was finally brought to my attention a few days ago, i was stunned and a little disappointed in myself. this album is beautiful. let me admit that i learned of the Decemberists when FNX started playing Sixteen Military Wives off of Picaresque. it grabbed me instantly, and the album got a pretty high amount of play from me in a time when my musical tastes were beginning to change. i wasn't sure what to expect of The Crane Wife, so my bias is limited in this respect. the entire album is well thought out and well written; they picked a definite theme and stuck to it to tell their story. the mingling of gently cascading guitars with a versatile organ, the harmonies displaying the individual and unique beauties of male and female voice as one. with two songs over eleven minutes, one would expect to be bored by the experience, but the result is quite contrary: the songs contain multiple parts, multiple stories, in one, delivered with a rise and fall of emotion and mood. i don't think i could say enough about the writing and energy that went into this album and its subtleties - so you tell me something i left out.
::::listen, children, as we weave this tale
The Decemberists - Yankee Bayonet (I Will Be Home Then)
The Decemberists - Sons And Daughters

The Killers - Sam's Town

let me start off by saying: this is not Hot Fuss. this is more grown up, less metrosexual, more rock, less of what spawned forty-two billion sound-alikes. they've been saying it the entire time, too, that they were reaching back to that big 80s rock sound. well, they've washed off the makeup and put on some leather jackets and grown some facial hair and delivered. there are influences of Springsteen and U2 and Queen and Bowie; a beefier sound and a hell of a lot more production. but personally, i'm not all that impressed. Hot Fuss was everyone's guilty pleasure after it exploded. you couldn't claim to have known the Killers first because nobody cared to hear it. instead, you sat in your room by yourself or blasted it in your car. this is different. it's been talked up since about march, by Brandon Flowers himself or by the radio stations or the online publications or your friends or mothers even. i have to question whether When You Were Young would be as big and noticed had it come out on its own, sans Hot Fuss. i'm not convinced that Brandon has the voice for the vocally demanding things that are asked of him on this album. i also think this 80s arena rock sound is nothing special, but it's been produced by the guys who worked with U2 so it'll sound good, but i think it's just another big mainstream rock album to me for now.
::::but you can decide for yourself
The Killers - Uncle Johnny
The Killers - Exitlude

Jet - Shine On

i can't claim that Jet has ever held anything special to me. they got overplayed and used in video game soundtracks, screaming to people who didn't even know the name of their band. where the Killers had five huge singles off of their debut, Jet came away with three, the last of which really turned me off to them. they've refined their sound now, though, and are taking another stab at this thing. as their pictures will tell you, they've struck a vein of 70s classic rock and they'll be mining that for the majority of what you're going to hear from them. strategic use of cowbell and falsetto with the basic piano plunking that's gotten popular will add some variety, but most of it is pretty vanilla in flavoring. having had a big enough debut to warrant them a significantly larger budget this time 'round, the sound is clearly bigger and even better thought out for the most part, but what gets me is this nagging thought: they're trying so hard to be some sort of modern permutation of the Beatles. now you can go on claiming that no one can truly get away from the Beatles influence in all modern pop and rock, but when it's as direct as you're hearing from Shine On, the question of originality and creativity comes up. at least there's a good variety of ballads and rock numbers to mix it up, but it's still pretty standard, as catchy as it can be. listen to the whole thing on their myspace, and get back to us.
::::have a taste
Jet - Holiday
Jet - All You Have To Do

Beck - The Information

you caught me - i already made a full post about The Information (including three tracks), but i can't get enough. it gets better every time, as many experiences with Beck tend to. he puts so much of himself into his work, so many of his personality quirks that shape and mold the album, the subtle flicks and dips that go primarily unnoticed until the fourteenth or twenty-second time through. the overall feel is still dark and heavy, but that only makes the contrasting highs and uptempo pops that much more effective. i could probably keep talking, going through the album again and again and noting the things that make it great to me - that chord change, that triangle ting, that cymbal crash, the use of synth there, heavier bass there, but that can only get so much across. get it yourself, and give me the information that you discover.

::::two of my favorites, from me to you
Beck - Soldier Jane
Beck - Inside Out
[bonus track]

i really do expect some feedback on this you know; one voice on the internet out of millions shouldn't be taken as the authority. where i personally feel that the Killers and Jet are a bit of a let down, someone else might think the album of the year is in there somewhere. maybe i'll even find that later. for now, i'll be content to keep spinning the Decemberists and Beck, depending on my mood.

all the artists' myspaces are linked in the band names of their sections, and the albums to preorder from amazon from the album title. on the subject of hype, i can tell you that you might be able to find nearly full albums for some of these on the Hype Machine, so check their individual pages immediately here: The Decemberists, The Killers, Jet, Beck. enjoy now, but don't forget to purchase the albums you like on tuesday.
Awesome post man- thanks!
I bought Becks new today album, what can I say except it's probably the best album I have ever heard.
'Cellphone Dead' is amazing.

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