Today I saw the trailer for Judd Apatow’s latest self-directed film, Funny People, and it looks amazing. The movie ups the drama and in doing so makes the comedy that much more affecting. The cast is unbelievable: Adam Sandler, Seth Rogen, Eric Bana, Leslie Mann, Jonah Hill and Jason Schwartzman. WOW!
I should’ve heard about New Orleans’ noise-pop duo Caddywhompus before I did. On their debut EP, Caddywhompus – which consists of guitarist Chris Rehm and Drummer Sean Hart – show themselves to be more talented and have more interesting ideas than not-bad-at-all bands like Titus Andronicus and Vivian Girls that are part of the current noise-pop revival. Instead of merely aping the JAMC and throwing walls of distortion over Phil Spector-style pop songs, Rehm and Hart compose manic, schizophrenic melody mash-ups; if Of Montreal’s Skeletal Lamping was a tribute to Kevin Shields instead of Prince, it might sound something like Caddywhompus.
Of course, the closest relative in sound to Caddywhompus is L.A.’s No Age. Like that band, Caddywhompus also show an affinity for thin, multitracked vocals and tripped out guitar pedals. Rehm and Hart seem to take No Age’s minimal-members, maximum rockage template and use it as a launching pad for their own distinct vision. All the song’s on the Caddywhompus EP – “This Is Where We Blaze The Nugz” and “Fun Times At Whiskey Bay” in particular – are made up of various fractured hook-filled segments that the band welds into a perfect pop entity.
For example, in “This Is Where We Blaze The Nugz”, the song starts off with swirling guitar-ambience before the duo launch into a driving rock rhythm that breaks down into a raunchy guitar melody. It then changes gears and goes into an “Eruption” style noodle before cutting out to make way for a series of “oh oh oh, oh oh oh, oh oh oh”s (not unlike the “ba ba ba ba um ba”s at the end of Of Montreal’s “Nonpareil of Flavour”) to take over. Finally it arrives at a kind of chorus which leads the song out. Despite the complexity of the songs, the track holds together perfectly and is consistently melodic. Done wrong (as some would argue the formula was on Skeletal Lamping) these songs would be a mess. Done right, as it is on the EP, it’s a wonder to behold.
Not only do the songs have a harder rock edge at times, but like most great noise-pop and shoegazer, there’s also a lush romance to Caddywhompus’ sound and their lyrics. At the end of “Fun Times At Whiskey Bar”, for example, Rehm (assuming he does the vocals, it could be Hart) sings, “and I feel safe with you/ and you with me.”
The last two songs, “Absinthesizer” and “Untitled #7408”, are less fractured (and impressive) than the tracks that preceded them but still crackle with energy and inspired melodies. Though the EP closes less enthusiastically than it opens, this is a minor detail and hardly takes away from the band’s accomplishment. Forward thinking and weird, while at the same time completely accessible, Caddywhompus have too much going for them to remain unappreciated for long.
You can download the EP free off the band’s website.
If there’s one band that most exemplifies Oscar Wilde’s claim that, “Talent borrows – genius steals,” it’s this week’s band of the week…
THE JESUS AND MARY CHAIN!!!
Basically, the Scottish-born Reid brothers wondered what would happen if The Velvet Underground (with John Cale still a member) rewrote Phil Spector songs on a bad hair day, and thus ironically “pioneered” one of the most copied sounds in the history of rock. Over twenty years have passed since the JAMC’s debut album came out and their signature sound still sounds as drop-dead cool as ever. To this day, bands like Crystal Stilts, The Raveonettes and Vivian Girls are making kick ass music copying these copycats.
In 1985, the Reid brothers unleashed Psychocandy upon the world and, despite – nay – because of their lifeless performance, drugged out neo-Warholian image and ear shattering distortion, became bonafide rock stars. The soundscape of rock was radically changed, leading the way for pedal-loving bands like Sonic Youth, My Bloody Valentine and the Cocteau Twins to waltz right in and further determine the course indie rock would take for the next decade-plus.
The band followed Psychocandy with the only slightly less noisy Darklands, which, though not as groundbreaking as Psychocandy, still contained a wealth of great songs, particularly “April Skies”. The band’s next album, Automatic, basically continued in the vein of Darklands. Both featured a strong use of shitty 80’s drum machines.
Three more albums followed, none of which satisfied fans waiting for an album to equal Psychocandy, and the JAMC called it quits in 1999. Supposedly 14 years of drugs, sex and distortion were enough for the Reid brothers, though they’ve recently reunited and played some festival dates.
Even if the brothers never make another album, two dudes turning up the distortion and playing pretty little pop songs have had more of an influence on late 20th-early 21st century rock than countless others with more talent and imagination. Now that’s a bloody fucking immaculate conception.
To purchase Psychocandy off Amazon.ca click here.