Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Miike Snow: Miike Snow

I was unaware there was any amount of hype around Miike Snow's self-titled debut. Never having heard anything, a friend of mine passed along this album back in early July and it really grew on me. I had previewed the album on Amazon, but I tell ya, those 30-second clips just aren't enough sometimes. (I purchased a Gentleman Jesse album based on a series of 30-second clips and man do I regret that. I listened to that album once and deleted it.)

Miike Snow is a collection of three Swedes that have been in the biz for a while. They were all intricately involved in the composition of Britney Spears' song "Toxic." I had actually read that somewhere before I heard the album, so I was prejudiced against Miike; I was looking for reasons to dislike them. However, similar to their fellow countrymen Peter Bjorn & John, Miike Snow knows how to lay down electronic beats. However, they do not sound like PB&J; I would describe them as Animal Collective for Dummies (in other words, if Animal Collective had created an album for the average listener). Miike Snow sort of sounds like Ratatat remixing Passion Pit covering Animal Collective (at least to my ears).

I would like this album even more if it were harder hitting at points or evidenced more depth or layers, but maybe the lack thereof is why I'm calling this album Animal Collective for Dummies. The album also suffers a bit from having its best track--"Animal"--as its first track. When the bar is raised at the very beginning, the other songs simply can't measure up.

: If you were hesitant to join the [Animal] Collective, Miike Snow makes resistance a little less futile. :)
Grade: B

The Moondoggies: Don't Be a Stranger

I stumbled across The Moondoggies on an NPR blog detailing the "Top 11 Debut Albums of 2008." I listened to their stuff and put them on my Amazon wishlist, but my wish didn't come true until three weeks ago. Initially I dismissed The Moondoggies as a poor man's Blitzen Trapper, but after giving Don't Be a Stranger a full spin, I quickly realized the error of my ways. There are strains of BT in there, but also Dr. Dog, Lynyrd Skynyrd, The Band, and even Wilco. Yes, I think their sound is that diverse.

There's just something magical about [semi-Southern] rock, summer, and a road trip. I piped this album through my stereo as I traveled to my parents' house for the 4th of July and what a glorious soundtrack Stranger proved to be. I can't think of an album I'd rather have blaring while I'm driving down the highway with the windows rolled down.

The somewhat surprising aspect of Stranger, especially since these boys are from Seattle, is the [mostly successful] employment another Southern tradition: gospel. This is most evident in the song "Jesus on the Mainline," but it feels less forced in "Save My Soul," and
"Ain't No Lord," the latter of which boldly proclaims: "Ain't no Lord gonna judge me now, / Ain't no one gonna put me down, / Ain't no home to rest my bones, / Ain't no woman gonna put me down." Clearly, The Moondoggies have also embraced another Southern tradition: abusing the English language. :)

Blurb: Don't Be a Stranger is not only one of last year's best debut albums, it's one of last year's best records. Period... err, exclamation point!

: A

Unfortunately, they don't have a music video, so all I could find were live performances and and a "video" ... none of these are my favorite songs: