The Weekly Jive

Posted February 7, 2008 in Music

The Hands—The Hands (Selector Sound)

The Hands eponymous release is like a shrink-wrapped bar fight. The album takes about 30 seconds to gain its momentum, and then you’re caught up in their social altercation, fists flailing and all adrenaline, as each drumbeat is a metaphorical pent-up, if not uninspired, blow against everything that compounds day-to-day post-modern angst. The Hands conduct this fight and occasionally throw punches of their own via wandering piano lines or the occasional trumpet blast, but generally keep things going at a chaotic frenzy with buzzing guitars and Mick Jagger’s swagger. It’s already obvious how this whole thing is going to end: torn shirt, listening to the Led Zeppelin—from whom The Hands borrow extensively—track that some hapless drunk played on the jukebox, and it’ll suddenly be apparent that all the hostility didn’t do much to solve your existential dilemmas. But it was fun to be caught up in the chaos, and you feel a little of that post-modern angst slipping away. Isn’t that what was supposed to happen? (Phil Fuller)


Idiot Pilot—Wolves (Reprise Records)

At any given moment, there’s little original or fresh about Idiot Pilot’s music. What the barely-drinking age duo do so well is, if you will, sonically curate a number of mostly K-ROQ-approved influences—U2’s anthemic excess; Deftones’ bong-friendly X-Box rawk; the falsetto-fueled melodrama of Muse; nu-metal’s chunk ‘n squeal Q&A guitars; obligatory screamo singing/screaming; and Aphex Twin’s fluttering ‘n frantic loops—into a cut-and-paste collection of sincere pastiches. Wolves is pompous, pre-meditated and pilfered, but still somehow stays just the right side of, say, Linkin Park’s production line sterility or the bottomless credibility chasm that is OneRepublic. The songwriting’s robust; the vocals palatable; and the stylistic targets move through Idiot Pilot’s savvy sights fast enough to keep even a terminal ADHD case listening. More late than great; more off-the-shelf than sense-of-self, Idiot Pilot’s utterly competent style stitching has “perpetual opening act” written all over it. (Paul Rogers)


Devastations—Yes, U (Beggars Banquet)

The self-titled 2004 debut from Aussie outfit Devastations, while promising enough to earn global kudos, also reminded listeners how great a shadow Nick Cave cast over his homeland. Conrad Standish’s romantic, often piano-centric narratives were tinged with sinister melancholy and sung right between Cave and Cave-disciple Stuart Staples of the Tindersticks; even the violin breaks were reminiscent of Bad Seed Warren Ellis. The band relocated to Berlin for 2006’s Coal, beginning the transition to Yes, U, which finds them mixing in even more bubbling synths, processed guitars and multi-textured keyboards. The doomed romanticism and sinister paces are intact, but many songs now carry a distinct electro-Euro feel, like Goldfrapp or Portishead in a devilish mood. The more urgent guitar tracks come across like the Twilight Singers run through Eno’s Berlin production of the mid-’70s, and though Cave and the Tindersticks still lurk here, too, this time Devastations cast their own shadow. (John Schacht)




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