Congratulations America, I’m pretty sure this is the most recently recorded album to be reviewed on your favorite blog, Records and Beer.
The Narrator is a band hailing from Chicago, and I’m not going to lie to you- I have no idea what the band members’ names are at this moment in time, nor am I going to take the time to look them up- and the reason I’m not going to look them up is ’cause they just sound like “dudes.” And by “dudes,” I mean that the guy singing sounds like he comes from the Tim Kinsella school of ROCK. Does the fact that they happen to be on Flameshovel Records influence him to sing a bit like Mr. Kinsella? Who knows. What I do know is that this album is totally overlooked, even though it was (shockingly) reviewed on Pitchfork and given a pretty good rating. Oh, and I like this album because it just kind of sounds like 90s rock.
So yeah, I guess because it sounds like “90s rock,” it’s not really anything groundbreaking, but goddamn did I listen to the shit out of this a couple years ago. The mood is definitely “hopeful, yet apathetic,” which is something I (and hopefully YOU) can rock and roll to. Also, I’m pretty sure I stole the part about them being apathetic from a review of this album I read somewhere else once, so please forgive me for the unoriginal thought. Anyway, back to the whole 90s rock thing. This is pretty much all guitars- bass-drums stuff, with nothing particularly standing out in the mix except some occasional out-of-nowhere vocal hooks.
There are some songs about going nowhere in life, having not really accomplished anything in life, smoking a joint with your sister, a cover of a weird Bob Dylan song from that Self Portrait album no one likes, and “Surf Jew,” which better have been a goddamn single, because it sure sounds like that’s what The Narrator was trying for, and it rules. If there is one song that I can say, “Hey, this may interest you in listening to this album,” then by Jove, that one is it. That up-and-down bass line, palm muting, raspy-vocals-in-the-chorus, “anthemic but not quite as downtrodden as the rest of the album” quality really makes it the focal point of the album. Not that the other songs are shitty, mind you, as that is immediately followed by “Panic at Puppy Beach,” which, despite the chorus sounding blatantly like early Modest Mouse, is quite good as well, and almost touching, until you realize how depressing and occasionally mean-spirited the lyrics are.
And there you have it, I can pound out an incredibly vague review in a small amount of time when I’ve had a few beers feel the need to accomplish something. Honestly, I was just listening to this really loudly while I was driving around a couple of weeks ago and felt the need to put it up here even though I don’t really have anything constructive to say about it. Also, I first heard of it from someone ELSE’S blog! How charming and appropriate. I know, this might not have been up to par, but believe me, I can’t always pump out stuff as engrossing as that “I gave you absolutely no reason to be interested in this” Alice Donut review I did last time.
Don’t let THIS unreliable narrator steer you towards a WALL- download the album here (ROFL- books):
Man oh man, I’ve been lazy. I have no real excuse for taking so long to update (I know you were holding your breath), except for finally and officially getting the internet along with Netflix instant play- I have to catch up on all of these acclaimed original televisions series that I’ve missed out on- mostly Two and a Half Men and Everybody Loves Raymond.
Enough with the excuses. Make It Pop is one of my faaaaaaaaves. Even though it did get reviewed a few big places (this seriously may be the only album that I’ve ever picked up after reading its review on Pitchfork years after the fact), most people I’ve talked to seem to be unfamiliar with it, which is a shame, because anyone I’ve played it for (who is into this particular kind of music) seems to think it’s great.
The Giddy Motors were all British and stuff, so they sounded exactly like the Beatles. Their singer, Gaveric de Vis, had an Andrew Falkous-y Mclusky sort of shout, and the rest of the band sounded like they were doing their best at attempting to create a follow-up Rapeman LP brimming with plentiful out-of-nowhere jazzy breaks and interludes. You may not think that sounds to much like the Beatles, but take this into consideration- if those four gentlemen had never worked with Phil Spector and hadn’t turned down that offer to time travel to 1991 Chicago, this is basically what Let It Be would have sounded like.
That whole “out-of-nowhere” time shift and/or occasional jazz influence is evident immediately, as the opener, “Magmanic,” turns from a bashing Rapeman/Jesus Lizard/Scratch Acid type thing to a sudden halt and continues at a half-speed dirge when the vocals kick in, only to slowly speed up throughout the course of the song. Unexpectedly, at least to me, after this point, only about half the songs have that expected Albini treble-scrape noise-rock guitar thing going on, but the composition in all of them (except one- I’ll get to that in a bit) is brimming with that crazed/creepy/noise-rock/90s Chicago/”pigfuck”/what-have-you atmosphere.
The highlight of the “not scrape-y” songs is, by far, “Hit Cap,” which happens to be track two! What makes up for the lack of noisy guitar in this one is a really noisy free jazz-style saxophone skronkin’ and blurtin’ all over the whole damn song along with the drums that also seem to frantically be all over the place- including somewhere bongo-ish. All of this paired with some very eccentric vocal delivery make for a crazed (yeah I already said crazed once in this review), nervous-sounding, near-wreck of a song that culminates perfectly in a rather loud blast of squealing noise and yelling towards the end. Best song on the album, IMO. LOL.
Everything else falls somewhere in between, but has its own highlights, whether it be more weird vocal touches, instrumentation, or even an oddly included Fugazi-ish dub influence, as on “Cranium Crux.” The one track that deviates from all of this, which I told you I would talk about at some point, is “Venus Medallist,” which is basically just a really pretty song with strings. By itself, it’s a perfectly fine song, but it really kills the mood of the album as the next-to-last track. Other bands have done this, but managed to make their “break in the madness” song still carry some sort of weird tension in it, as to not totally distract from the mood, but this song does not work in that way. However, as I mentioned earlier, this album is one of my faaaaaaves, so apparently this isn’t that much of a strike to the quality of Make It Pop as I just made it seem. Like I said, the song itself is fine, you just have to be ready for all prior mood and atmosphere to be halted for almost five minutes towards the end of the album.
So, yes, this is pretty sweet and you should give it a shot. The Giddy Motors have one more album after this, Do Easy, that is also highly recommended, though it pretty much dumps the weird jazz thing for more streamlined songs and straight aggressiveness. Anyway, this review is getting to be a little long, and I know what you’re all saying- Make It Stop!
Download the album here, as I contemplate suicide over that last joke: