Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Blonde Redhead

For a band who have been around since 1993 and released six albums already, Blonde Redhead have surprisingly never entered my world until this year. I mean I knew the name, but that’s about it. A shame really, because I really like 23, and subsequently their previous record Misery is a Butterfly.

Now I’m sure that 23 and even Misery… isn’t representative of their older stuff, which was apparently more of a Sonic Youth vibe (and produced by Steve Shelley, natch). I’m sure I’ll get round to exploring their back catalogue in time, but for now it’s all about 23. Which thankfully has nothing to do with the recent rubbish Jim Carrey film of the same name.

The title track (the first on the album) has been around for a few months now, made freely available by their record company. It’s a perfect encapsulation of what the rest of the album is like and it’s one of its best tracks. The haunting piano opening, the energetic, propulsive drumming from Simone Pace, then Kazu Makino’s high, ethereal vocals topping it off beautifully.

These days Blonde Redhead seem to owe more to classic psychedelic American indie rock bands like The Flaming Lips and Grandaddy than Sonic Youth or the new York no wave outfit DNA from which they took their name. But on their current form, that’s a good thing.

This is an album to return to again and again. If you’re like me, the first time you hear it through, it may pass by in a lovely woozy haze, with no one track standing out, but instead they all blend together to form the impression of something warm and otherworldly. But go back, listen again and the individual songs begin to take their own forms. There are some great tunes here – in particular The Dress, Spring and by Summer Fall and Silently, but I still reckon that 23 is best taken in a total dose. Y’know the old-fashioned way of listening to an album all the way through before iTunes and pods came along and shuffled our listening sensibilities.

The band head over here for a tour in late May. For Londoners, they hit our city at Koko on the 30th. Now I know that this is perilously close to the birth of The Baby Growl, but I hope to be there, mobile phone in my pocket, ready to make a quick escape from Camden if necessary. If that happens, it won’t be the music I’m running from.

Download: Blonde Redhead – Spring and by Summer Fall
Download: Blonde Redhead – Silently

23 is out next Monday (16 April). Pre-order it here.

There’s also a website created specially for 23, which if you fancy yourself as a budding remixer, you can have a go at remixing Blonde Redhead’s upcoming b-side Signs Along the Path.


jamila said...

strangely, Blonde Redhead have only come to my attention this year too. they are, as you say, very good. 'Distilled' from their album 'In And Expression..' is definitely my favourite song by them.

Ben said...

I have In An Expression... which is very Sonic Youthy without being amazing, and Melody Of Certain Damaged Lemons which is more unique and leftfield and has a few gems. They've always struck me as better in concept than in practice - perhaps a bit unfair, but there you go.

olbaid said...

Wonderful music. A series of melodies that transport you to other worlds...