“Land Of Truth” – ‘Krikor And The Dead Hillbillies & “Upside Down” – ‘Banjo Or Freakout’
Where do I begin?
My partner, Michael Hodder, would come to the same conclusion that the music scene at the moment is at a standstill. Finding a good album this week was like finding a pin inside a stack of needles; sharp, painful, with no one definite pin. It’s all alike at the moment; Jarvis Cocker, I have to admit, has put me off Brit-pop for life. Low and behold, album after album, Brit-pop after Brit-pop.
This weeks picks were a mix of phantasmic forces, appearing and disappearing without warning. Small-time music heroes pushing their way through the thick dessicated muck called ‘mainstream’ – if the review is any help to either of them, all the better. Down with the system, is how I see it: down with politics, down with mainstream!
On the roller-coaster this week, two fantastic bands – ‘Krikor And The Dead Hillbillies’ are a European band hailing from Paris, France, which should be interesting for you guys, and the other I’ve managed to scrounge up are ‘Banjo Or Freakout’, again European – this time London, UK. With some slight optimistic behaviour on par with the mutilation of the ‘hillbilly’ populace, ‘Krikor’ – for short – have earned their place as first-review-pick.
“Land Of Truth” would have to be a new arrival within my ‘pending’ folder at the moment, strictly for review-purposes only. And to be honest, I generally give an album a solid play-through for about a week before I come to a decision about its place within my reviews. Since the ‘lack-of-albums’ has called for desperate measures, since the times are in themselves desperate enough – heaven forbid if The Enantiomorphic God missed even a single review [the world would collapse in on itself, the sun would burst in fiery glory, consuming the solar system in a wave of red luminescence; MUAHAHAHAHAHA!] – I decided to move it up a notch. I’ve been listening for three days and I’m hooked. Yes, ‘Krikor’ in my eyes, have put their foot in the door with their album “Land Of Truth”, and although its public image has yet to receive the recognition it deserves, they’re sure to be burning in the limelight soon enough…
I’ve had some difficulty in placing them, genre-wise, and comparing them to other like-bands. They themselves admit they belong to three genres in specific: shoegazing, industrial, psychobilly. I hear it in the music, but still: these are limiting aspects – rather, they are insufficient generalisations – because ‘Krikor’ play with their music, and its reminiscent of ‘Gorillaz’, in the sense their synth and vocals [when they creep out] sound similar. Often enough, they break that boundary, and become just as soft as they can be loud. They take aspects from indie – although that’s a term I’m reluctant to use – but replacing it with alternative is just as unsuitable.
And this is all a good thing. I’m always on the hunt for finding a band that is ‘breaking-the-rules’, so to speak, and has fresh new insights for music. I’m not about to make them their own genre – the album and its tracks might just be a stroke of luck – but they’re certainly on the cusp of reworking what they say they are. Electric Rose – if I had to come up with one, though [I couldn’t help myself]: it looks good, sounds great, and has just enough spark to bite you back when you go in for the ‘Big-Sniff’.
Now, usually you’ll find that my review has some information about the band: the members, more importantly. Their myspace page, I’ll emphasise, is a little frustrating, same too with their last.fm summary, which is just as convoluted. But if you want to check them out, and listen to their samples, it’s adequate: http://www.myspace.com/krikorparis
Onwards, to some track specifics, I’ll admit I dislike nothing that ‘Krikor’ has to offer on “Land Of Truth”. It opens with an infectious beat that had me finger-tapping all the way, a good head-throb song; “… It’s the last goodbye…” and from what I gather, there’s a shift from ‘Krikor’s’ female vocalist, to a male [in following tracks] – according to their last.fm summary, a guest appearance [I think]. “The Times” appropriately sets the scene for ‘Krikor’, a distinctive rhythm, memorable lyrics.
One dead hillbilly after another, ‘Krikor’ pump out song after song, beat after beat. The second track, “Serpico’s Wallet”, opens with some very ‘Matrix’ like electric guitar, waving from side to side, before the electric riff starts, setting up a piano to counter the upcoming synth beat. Similar to the first, “Serpico’s Wallet” carries with it classic ‘Krikor’ elements. Some white noise, and a blaring electric guitar follow next in “God Will Break It All”, and all of a sudden, you and ‘Krikor’ are back in the ’80’s, synth and all. “God will break it all, god will break it all, god will break it all…”
“Repent for your sins, people!’ An Evangelical priest shouts, “the end is nigh, the day of judgement is at hand!”
If there was ever a priest, and ever a day, this would have to be his backing track…
A shift from this, and onto some very post-rock-esque music in “Wanton Boy”, which has probably earned them the right to be called ‘shoegazers’. I can’t talk much about this one, it’s all over the place in a good way.
“Crackboy” brings back that classic beat we became so accustomed to, and you’ll literally leave your fingers hanging off with an incessant need to ‘click’. Seriously.
“Dogs On Trial”, a few tracks down, is somewhat a mix between “TBD” meets electronica, meets Hollow Rock. It’s just another example of “Land Of Truth’s” limitless boundaries. I can be critical of bands that break the tradition of music-similarity, but ‘Krikor’ pulls it off for me. Although I think they’re an acquired taste, anyone up for an awesome beat should put themselves on the waiting list for the album – I say 15-$20 is very reasonable, and four-outta-five “Dead Hillbillies” will have you laughing!
“Upside Down”, ‘Banjo Or Freakout’s’ – I believe, but could be mistaken – first EP, brings together a six-piece play-through that is substantial-enough to be called, in itself, a full-length feature album. Tracks are lengthy, the EP goes for a solid 30 minutes, which isn’t too bad in my books, compared to the usual 20. ‘Alessio Natalizia’ and ‘Strato’ make up ‘Banjo Or Freakout’, whose music is surprisingly full of body and soul for a two-piece band.
Unlike ‘Krikor’, ‘BOF’ – for short – have an electric twist to their music, and despite its synthetic-feel, is quite organic and free. On the cusp of post-rock, ‘BOF’ best fit into electronica or psychedelica, genre-wise. They have the elements of synth, and the elements of indie-rock, to fit accordingly.
Other than that, these two have airy-voices that melt delectably into their music, and due to this, lyrics are somewhat muffled and difficult to make out as a consequence. It gives ‘BOF’s’ music some appeal, but might prove fruitless to lyric-lovers. I’d liken them to ‘The Antlers’, but their music is more post-rock-esque when the ambience kicks in. In some regards, “Upside Down” is like a heavier, raspier version of “Hospice”, but not quite as epic.
The tracks blend into one and other, and where ‘Krikor’ had some memorable stuff going, like my favourite, “The Times”, “Upside Down” is more like an orchestral piece: it has to be played from start to finish, there’s no sense coming in at the beginning, and walking out at the crescendo. “The Week Before”, the EP’s second track, has some ‘Vangelis’-like synth and ambience in the background, but becomes overwhelmingly loud with this scratchy beat that I can find no comparison to. The inharmonious-vocals seem to offset all of this, and make for an eerie tune that sure sent chills running up and down my spine – worthwhile for a listen in the dark. Christmas bells follow, and we ditch ‘Vangelis’, for some organic-morphing beat in “Like You“. As is appropriate for ‘BOF’, a sudden shift from, say, soft, or slow, or beatlessness, to a full-blown chorus in a second, is to be expected.
Comes in waves…
And, well, I think for me, and for you, and for everybody: a revelation. I came across “Upside Down’s” final track “Mr. No“, a loathsome, detestable ‘remix’. Now, for those of you who are new readers, I’d recommend you read some prior posts to get the gist of what I’m about to admit: I loved it. The subtle beat, the guitar strum, how the music keeps you on edge, waiting for god knows what; it’s like the Alzheimer patient, you know, the one in “Harvie Krumpet”, who sits at a bus-stop waiting for a bus that will never come. Exactly like that, you’re left on the edge, with a crescendo that teasingly never arrives. Though it is slightly repetitive, I do enjoy it. And since I haven’t the original to compare it with, I am eagerly awaiting its arrival so I can take back what I’ve just said…
“Banjo Or Freakout”– if either of you guys ever manages to read this – should be proud of yourselves: you’ve changed the opinion, if only slightly, of a man who can’t stand radio-remixes. The album – I should say EP, actually: if it’s anything like the album hopefully to come, then I’d pack your bags, wait outside JB, and grab it. And I’m only giving it a three-and-a-half-outta-five because I want more…
Some good stuff happening here, peoples: http://www.myspace.com/banjoorfreakout
Now “Mr. Yes”, The Enantiomorphic God