Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Something to celebrate!

Here’s one that may have got away I fear. The Modern Tribe by Celebration has slipped into our record stores without any fanfare, seemingly unreviewed in a week with a heap of other ‘big’ releases. Heck, it wasn’t even the biggest release of the week on its own label, with the new Beirut album being more of a biggie for 4AD.

It would be a shame if it was to languish ignored though, because it really is a fine record, and a good follow-up to their debut self-titled album from 2005. For those who don’t know much about them, the band hails from Baltimore, Maryland, and comprises of married couple Katrina Ford and Sean Antanaitis, with non-family member David Bergander on drums and percussion. Katrina is the singer, while Sean handles duties on a number of instruments including guitar, but more importantly the guitorgan, an electric guitar / organ combo instrument that has to be seen to be fully appreciated.

That’s a bit like Celebration themselves. When I first heard the band, I didn’t pay that much attention. It wasn’t till I saw them as support for TV on the Radio last year that it all made sense to me. Ford is a charismatic and engaging frontwoman as she flails around at the front of the stage. It’s all quite reminiscent of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, but one comment on a previous Celebration post hinted that the influence might actually be the other way round (Celebration have been around longer than their two albums might suggest).

Certainly Celebration are a more interesting band than the Karen O and co. are at the moment. The thing that seems to set them apart is their sense of rhythm. And that makes such a difference. Elsewhere the band takes on elements of soul, jazz and choral singing to add to the rich sonic textures organ swirls and complex melodies they create. That it’s reminiscent of TV on the Radio isn’t a surprise since their friend David Sitek is once again on production duties, and most of the rest of the Brooklyn band can be found bringing their instrumental and vocal skills to a few tracks.

It’s been a while since I’ve listened to Celebration, but this album seems a bit lighter than its predecessor. More poppy, without any track really being anywhere near a singalong. Not that this will necessarily make for a host of new fans flocking to the Celebration cause, which is a shame because this is an album that really does reward repeated listens and in a world of identikit indie rock, Katrina Ford and co. are a breath of fresh air.

Download: Celebration – Heartbreak
Download: Celebration – Fly the Fly

There a few remixes of tracks off The Modern Tribe also doing the rounds. None of them really improve or add much to the originals apart from a few beats. But nonetheless, here’s a reworking of Hands Off My Gold by remixers du jour Simian Mobile Disco.

Download: Celebration – Hands Off My Gold (Simian Mobile Disco Remix).

Buy The Modern Tribe, or download from emusic.

PS. At least Drowned in Sound likes it...


Jeff said...

This record is amazing. I think they've made a great leap since their last record.

Anonymous said...

4AD doesn't even release Beirut in the US and I've seen this record reviewed in quite a few places!

The Daily Growl said...

I'm glad it has - it deserves as wide an audience as possible. Pitchfork didn't like it much, but what do they know...?

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