According to a recent petition "We the people of the United States feel that we are being wrongly represented in the world of pop culture."
Indeed. With nearly 236,000 signatures, the declaration of proud nationalism goes on to state, "We would like to see the dangerous, reckless, destructive and drug-abusing Justin Bieber deported and have his green card revoked."
We get it. Bieber's atrocious pop music goes beyond "ear worm" catchiness. You could smuggle a baby in his knee-level-crotch pants. He looks like a female Miley Cyrus. He breaks the law. But the question arises, are we asking the government to deport him because of his "reckless, destructive and drug-abusing" behavior or because his music's awful? In this week's Bieber-free collection of new albums, a couple American indie iconoclasts share their contributions to the modern musical climate alongside a couple other great albums by slightly lesser known artists.
The ongoing collaboration of producer Danger Mouse and The Shins' lead singer James Mercer, Broken Bells drop their newest collection of super-polished indie pop tunes, After the Disco. In the single "Holding On For Life," the duo showcases the blending of different worlds. Mercer's guitar strumming and crispy-clean singing along with Danger Mouse's hip-hop/disco production style results in a curious monster of a pop song. The disco-tinged chorus mixed with minimalist hip-hop drum tracks, lush synths and Mercer's melodious voice, places the track in an interesting intersection where it constantly fights against genre and definition. Despite being an overly self-aware merger of interests, the artists' styles cohesively mash-up.
On the stranger end of Americana, Four Foot Shack features Primus' infamous bassist in Les Claypool's Duo de Twang. In what could basically be described as "Claypool Unplugged," this folk outfit has all of the slappy bass and weird vocal stylings of Claypool's solo work and Primus records in conjunction with Bryan Kehoe's sliding, twang-rich guitar playing. Stylistically, the album is thoroughly backwoods folk as it travels across a myriad of covers including The Chantays' surf rock classic "Pipe Line," Jerry Reed's "Amos Moses" and the Bee Gees' "Stayin' Alive." It's a strange collection with even stranger results. Undeniably, the two are insanely talented and, though just a duo, fill out the sound with complex and intricate guitar lines.
For his solo debut, L.A-.based electronic musician Jerome LOL put out four vaguely nostalgic vocal house tracks in his album, Deleted/Fool EP. Featuring stomping kick drums and a background collage of sliding vocals, "True" (ft. Angelina Lucero) takes early '90s house production styles and warps them in such a way that makes the track feel like a misremembered past. In its entirety, Deleted/Fool is a dual-purpose album. The heavy drums and occasional outbursts of synthesized vocals are capable of starting a party. However, the mournful, warm and lush moments feel sensitive and contemplative.
Despite our nation's attitude towards certain bits of imported music at this time, some of the finest products come from overseas. So Long, See You Tomorrow, the latest album from London's Bombay Bicycle Club, explores a slightly softer side to the band. Where they used to carry gritty undertones, they've cleaned up quite a bit and, for the most part, it works for them. While a couple songs are a little too milquetoast and edgeless, tracks like "It's Alright Now" suggest something more emotional. Leaning more on their keyboards, their music is finding new footing in a sensitive atmosphere.
While none of these albums will move you to eat a hot dog while reciting the Bill of Rights, these albums, regardless of popularity or origins, contribute to the American cultural atmosphere.