Over the past few years, New York has been a particularly important contributor to my music collection. A few years ago, I got deeper into the music of Interpol, as I had never really given them a shot. A year later, I started listening to the work of TV on the Radio.
Fate was even kinder than I had hoped for with the work of David Sitek (of TV on the Radio) and his above par production skills with another beloved New York band, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. The band just released its 3rd studio album a bit more than a fortnight ago, entitled It’s Blitz!
But before I get into that, I’m going to show you what (more particularly who) they’re working with. Formed in 2000, the band was founded by the insanely fashion-forward Karen O (Karen Lee Orzolek if you’re nasty), a half Polish half South Korean, but all badass lead singer. The energy she has on stage is something generally unseen these days, and brings the boys back for more (also being one of the hottest women in music doesn’t hurt).
The guitarist of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs feels to me like the artist pick of the litter. Nick Zinner has that scene look (but done right), complete with the skinny frame, tight clothes, and wicked hair style. Hell he’s even a vegan and runs with everyone’s favorite animal activists, PETA. When needed, he jumps on the keys to bring this album’s dancier tracks to life.
But the glue of the band has to come from Brian Chase, the drummer of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. He might be one of the most unique drummers, even musicians, which I’ve had the pleasure of listening to. Brian “suffers” (I use this term loosely because it sounds badass) from Sound-Color Synesthesia, which enables him to see colors based on the sounds that he hears. What’s more, is that he doesn’t show of too often, but instead brings back the nostalgic feelings of the power trio, of which we hardly ever see.
But let’s get into It’s Blitz… For all old fans of the band, this album is a little bit of juxtaposition in comparison to their early albums. But don’t let that jar you, it’s still amazing. First thing that everyone should know is that Karen O is doing a lot more singing, as opposed to more of yelling at us. Not that yelling was bad, this is just different. As far as a theme goes, the songs don’t feel like they connect too much lyrically, unless I’m missing something. But musically, the tracks keep on the dancier side, with a few dips into the sadder ballads.
As I said before, the album was produced by British producer Nick Launay, along with fellow New Yorker and guitarist for TV on the Radio, David Sitek. It was harder to pinpoint the work of Nick (whose worked with Talking Heads, Arcade Fire, INXS, and Silverchair to name a few), while Sitek’s work was a bit fresher in the mind to me.
For instance, Track 6, Shame and Fortune felt very much like something you’d hear on a TV on the Radio track. The song has a drums and filtered guitar made me think instantly of a perhaps omitted track on Dear Science.
Also on the introductory track, Zero, I felt as if it was a faster version of Dear Science’s intro track Halfway Home. Of course it has its own feel, but the point is that it’s very Sitek to me.
Dragon Queen, the 8th track, is my first of three favorites. It made me want to dance, with my usual pelvic thrusting goodness. Particularly though, a good breakdown always gets me going. At about 1:25 you get a taste of it for a few seconds, but then the best is at 1:55, and again at 2:30. Karen O sounds like a badass, and Brian Chase has some illy switch-ups here and there, to finish with another sick breakdown at 3:10 to song’s end. Don’t forget to pay homage to Nick’s funk guitar echoing in the background, with the added synth to boot.
Track 7, Runaway, was one of the sadder songs, opened by a simple piano score for the first 40 seconds. I think this song was amazing mainly because it was good to hear Karen O master her soft singing skills. This tells me she’s not a one trick pony (unless whorish tricks are your thing). The first chorus is soft and inviting, not unlike Mama Blanco, while the rest of song has a heavier middle, and powerful instrumental outro.
But number one with a bullet goes to track 5, Dull Life, a track I can guarantee will get a spot on my 2009 best singles list. Introduced with a sexy guitar intro, Karen whispers us in to the midpoint of the album. After the track picks up at the quarter minute mark, Karen and the guitar are in synch, a method just original enough to sound awesome still. As the energy perpetuates, the second chorus has music full swing, adding “It’s a dull life!” several times. Nick goes back to his solo, which gradually gets added to by the bass and viola, leading to another powerful chorus, complete with ringing guitar outro. SEX.
This album is heavyweight, and my article can’t really do it justice. New and old fans alike will not be disappointed. For those of you going to Coachella, Yeah Yeah Yeahs are one of the main acts on Sunday the 19th, so don’t miss it. Yeah Yeah Yeahs still have it, and I hope to get some spicy video action for you at the festival. Give the album a listen, and then go cop it, because you know me, I’m always right.
Until next time my friends,