The Yeah Yeah Yeahs release a new stimulus package
It’s only when you have finished a job like programming the Sydney Festival that you fully appreciate what a lucky bugger you were. You get paid to listen to albums, go to shows and exhibitions and then work with those artists you most admire. And you get paid for it.
Obviously it’s not without its strains – a friend of mine often cites the excruciating five-hour incomprehensible nonsense we sometimes have to work our way through and claims “I get paid to watch this crap so you don’t have to!”.
The truth is of course, somebody has to do it. We all want and need someone to trawl through the blizzard of choice and come up with combinations of plays and concerts that have been selected with us in mind. During my time in Sydney this was particularly apparent when it came to popular music.
Most informed people buy about 10 – 20 albums each year and go to maybe 6 – 10 concerts over the same period. With hundreds of album reviews coming at them weekly, buying music often becomes more of a chore than a pleasure. Without guaranteeing that all our concerts would be met with approval, we did manage to present many of most interesting artists of the past few years in a way which was geared towards music lovers rather than music fanatics.
Since I left Sydney, several people have asked me to drop them an occasional email telling them what I’m listening to and what they should be keeping an eye out for. When the gang at The Punch asked me to contribute I saw it as a great opportunity to do just that – recommend an album every now and then that I think is outstanding, usually lyrical and in many cases great fun.
While I’m not a music journalist, I guess I’m also no amateur in these matters. I hope you see this column as simply a note from a friend about special albums that I think you will enjoy.
With this in mind and given the gloomy times in which we live, I thought it would be fitting to kick things off with a happy, shiny record that seems to give a sparkling two fingers of indifference to our apocalyptic times. ‘Off, off, off with your hear, Dance, dance, dance ‘til your dead’ exhorts lead singer Karen Orzolek on the Yeah Yeah Yeahs joyous new release ‘It’s Blitz!’.
Usually when a band signals a new direction it suggests a swing to a less familiar or more esoteric sound. With ‘It’s Blitz!’, however, the YYYs have put down their guitars, stepped up to their synths and delivered an album that will surely propel them into the mainstream. That they have achieved their new artful prettiness and dance floor shimmer without sacrificing their beefy defiance is no mean feat.
‘It’s Blitz!’ is an easy listen and will strike retro chords with fans of Blondie and New Order while simultaneously ringing more recent bells with lovers of Bloc Party or even The Killers. There are classic disco backbeats to enjoy on ‘Heads will Roll’ and clever electro bleeps and beeps abound throughout. However, any sense that this album is intended as an ironic amusement are dismissed with the genuine tenderness of ballads like ‘Skeletons’ and the sense of commitment that runs from start to finish.
Although much has been made of the role of Nick Zinners guitarts (or now his keyboards) for me the YYYs are all about the breathless volatility of Karon O, whose voice seems to improve with each new album. Although I have yet to catch it, the word is that her live performance, already a sight to behold, has shifted to new levels.
To be honest, I don’t think that ‘It’s Blitz!’ will make it into the top five albums of 2009 but were to you ask me to name a record that I could give to almost anyone and feel confident they would enjoy it, this might very well be it. F**k the recession - put your leathers on and dance.
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@mooks83 sophisticated response. Think the kids parents saw it differently
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