Seven Deadly Singles #39: This Ain't A Scene, It's a Goddamn Indie-Rock Encore Preview
Fall Out Boy - "This Ain't A Scene, It's An Arms Race"
Yeah! This is how a real band sells out. Full-on frontal assault, with industrial-dance stomping, shit metaphors that suit their arena-rocking future, a peanut-gallery shout-along chorus of backup boys, even "hoo hoo hoo" harmonies stolen right from the Format's album, which I bet was deliberate, since who would ever believe those nobodies? Class-A thievery though; all of it works, works, works. The best crunch you'll hear on the radio all year, even if it lacks the universality and hook appeal of "Sugar, We're Goin' Down." And hey, Andrew, you can understand the words. A-
Kaiser Chiefs - "Ruby"
Gotta love the automatic hype of Britain unparalled anywhere else in the world. I mean, wouldn't Oumou Sangare or Clem Snide have more fans if they lived where The Vines are "Nirvana + Beatles"? So I liked 2004's well-pumped Employment, though it probably won't survive my hard drive's next cleaning, and loved its leadoff kissoff "Everyday I Love You Less And Less," which wasn't nearly as big a hit as the shruggable "I Predict A Riot." So maybe the sophomore album will feature another fluke as great as that one's, but this greeting card sure ain't it. This isn't even "I Predict A Riot." It's a generic nugget of chords that was merely the honest best thing these spoiled victims of overhype could muster up, the poor things. C+
The All-American Rejects - "It Ends Tonight"
And speaking of spoiled, haven't these guys gotten a little too used to the big time? When are people gonna cut them down already? I'm serious, they are a threat. Everyone takes far more pleasure in shooting the woebegone Killers or the are-they-joking drama queens My Chemical Romance or even the fully-realized Panic! At The Disco, but at least those clowns have a persona to love or hate as you please. These jocks are just lucky fucks whose friend of a friend bribed them into the music business, and they're so visionless they would've been content to remain one-hit wonders. Only then SoundScan got a virus or Laguna Beach gave them face time or the terrorists won and now they're whining your prom theme. This has to end now. D-
The Arcade Fire - "Black Mirror"
There's no point in even considering this band in a "singles" context; the last time I did I was dead wrong, badly underrating one of 2004's defining cuts at a B+, and I don't want to make a fool of myself twice. So when I say I'm not completely bowled over by this effective creepy goth-rocker (don't even talk, it's fucking called "Black Mirror"), that doesn't mean I won't be when it comes time to make my Best of 2007 list. Asidy from the blustery windstorms that don't exactly make the whispered chants of the title all that dramatic, they have grandeur for weeks, and this doesn't sound completely unlike the title track from Sam's Town, but it is a hell of a lot safer. It's too late to reserve judgment for the album's release, but those frothing at their ironic moustaches shouldn't be disappointed. Like Sonic Youth or Yo La Tengo, these guys could yet turn into one of rock's great grower bands. B+
Modest Mouse - "Dashboard"
Dancepunk is officially dead. Modest Mouse has their share of albums I respect dissent from, but I'm actually worried about this one. I should've known from that deadly January release date that it would mean failure, almost every well-anticipated band who ahem, makes release, at the beginning of the year, ends up a forgotten disappointment. Just look at Moby and Queens of the Stone Age's last albums, if you can remember their titles. And like Modest Mouse's last album, they've graced year-end Top 10s too. But back to "Dashboard," I don't know how they could've fucked up, unless new guitarist Johnny Marr's really lost his knack since the Smiths. But I just can't imagine the swirling disco strings and half-realized horn charts were Isaac Brock's idea, even though the scratchy guitar funk and bad (worse) singing probably were. Consider yourself warned, "Float On" is now a mere dot in the rearview mirror. C+
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah - "Love Song No. 7"
Not a good sign. Trippy piano ballads with newfound Beatles influences don't mix well with Talking Heads-ish art-rockers with horrible singers. Ditto for love songs. And I guess they threw in accordions and backup horrible singers because they just don't give a fuck anymore. Maybe having an A&R person to monitor studio progress isn't such a bad thing after all. So long, blogs. Wait, strike that. So long, people with ears. C
Ghostface Killah feat. Trife Da God and Mr. Maygreen - "Good"
Just to be a dick, I threw the best song of the last two months in here so hiphoppers can gloat about the differences between their expectations and the nail-biting nervousness of the indie rockers'. A geezer like Nas can put out a meh album like Hip Hop Is Dead and it's like, no problem, it'll just make his next comeback hit harder, because that's how rap works, you have to sink to swim, as one indie-rocker once put it. With CYHSY or the Arcade Fire, it's make or break, like one wrong idea in your premature ambitions and you'll blackball Pitchfork for life and your sheep fanbase along with it; look what happened to Trail of Dead. No one's holding their breath for Fishscale's follow-up, not even me, and hey, we get the bonus of the very enjoyable More Fish for our troubles. Was anyone holding their breath for Fishscale even? Only Jay-Z, who's now a rock star instead of a rap one, could shore up such disappointment because he hyped his album the rock way. Of course he's not gonna suffer for it; Kingdom Come's doing great. But Ghostface leaves with his reputation, not to mention this totally effortless-sounding, horn-funked, chopped-up-soul sampling, honest-to-God pop song now in his repertoire, aka the best song of the last two months. A+