This Tuesday, September 23rd, has been on my radar for the past few months. And here’s why it should be on yours:
TV on the Radio.
Kings of Leon.
The Foot Fist Way (on DVD).
With that taken care of, let’s investigate why these names matter.
First, Jenny Lewis. As some of you may be aware, she is the lead singer of Rilo Kiley, not to mention a child actor in films such as Pleasantville and the Fred Savage masterpiece The Wizard (yeah, the one about the Nintendo championship that featured the first footage of Super Mario 3, sweet, sweet celluloid that it was). After three albums with Rilo Kiley, Lewis stretched out and released her first solo work (though not entirely solo, as she armed herself with The Watson Twins on backing vocals), Rabbit Fur Coat.
The band-less work continued the sound they had been working toward together, albeit with a bit more country twang. Perhaps this evolution came along because this was a sound Kiley would abandon on their next album, Under the Blacklight, which came off as more than just over-reaching. Though who knows, apparently the album was well received in the critic’s circles and widened the band’s fanbase. Even if most of it sounded like a mediocre Heart record. But never mind all that, because those roots are likely back and hopefully, her new work is as ethereal as Rabbit Fur Coat.
TV on the Radio. Arguably, the creator of 2006’s best album, Return to Cookie Mountain (and continuing the Super Mario connections). After a sidestep to produce Scarlett Johansson’s record of Tom Waits covers, Dave Sitek is back with his band, making beautiful noise a staple of winter ’08. The band’s sound is genuinely indescribable and the lyrical content leans toward incomprehensible. Or maybe just too smart for me to make out. None of that matters, because the overall picture is so damn good.
And even though I just labeled the sound as indescribable, I’m now going ahead with a noble attempt to do just that. Here goes:
Imagine a soul singer howling lyrics over the conjoined twin of Nine Inch Nails and Aphex Twin who bear-hug Radiohead before making sweet love with the Beach Boys, thereby inheriting their harmonic qualities, only to then slather on layers of sound that would make Phil Spector blush (to be fair, he may be all blushed out at this point) while at all times accounting for their penchant to drop everything and sing a Capella. Phew!
I gave it a shot.
Their new work continues delving into their groundbreaking sound while at times veering into a much heavier electronic vibe that plays around with elements of hip-hop (namely the new single “Dancing Choose”). I’ve ingested about half of the album so far and what I’ve heard only furthers my excitement to gorge on the full setlist.
Kings of Leon. When the band’s last album Because of the Times dropped, incredibly enough, early last year, we were treated to another masterwork from the “Southern roots rock and then some” band. While not as immediate as Aha Shake Heartbreak, the Tennessee boys matured considerably on the record, both musically and personally.
Their initial release ushered in a down-and-dirty Southern sound resulting from their upbringing on Lynyrd Skynyrd, PBR and a preacher father/uncle.
Then they had sex with groupies. And the second album followed them into bed.
A few years passed, they grew into men and relationships blossomed. And so it was on the third record, full of songs about the difficulty of adult decisions and attempts at settling down that may not have worked out, if their new work is any indication.
Led by the hooky as hell single, “Sex on Fire,“ Only By the Night sees them returning to their Southern roots for further examination and, according to Caleb Followill, a more rocking sound. Perhaps a break-up is just what the boys needed to propel them back to their crunchy origins.
And then there’s Ben Folds.* Let’s be honest, he stopped mattering years ago. Yet to this day, there remains a place in my heart for my high school favorite, so I will probably always feel a twinge of excitement whenever something new comes along, sort of like my dad with Jimmy Buffett (sans the vacuous songwriting and devastating lack of talent).
So I’ll listen. Once. Maybe three times. And I’ll hope that it clicks. But it probably won’t. And then I’ll go back to the three aforementioned mentioned albums and allow those to fill my fall evenings with sweet, quivering audible nectar.
Finally, The Foot Fist Way might have me more excited than any of the above. Since it wasn’t released on the Cape this summer and I was too lazy to drag my ass to Boston for a viewing, I am frothing at the mouth to see my favorite new comedic talent chew some serious scenery.
After stealing just about everything he’s been in, including two of the summer’s biggest hits, Pineapple Express and Tropic Thunder, the idea of him as the central character in a ridiculous comedy is cinematic heaven. It’s been a long time coming, so hopefully the guy who brought us Bust-Ass in David Gordon Green’s criminally under-seen All the Real Girls has the chops he’s been hinting at all along.
So there you have it. If you don’t care about this Tuesday now, nothing can convince you otherwise. I tried. And if you do care, I’m glad I could make an impact.
Unless I didn’t. You might have already known all of this and made me waste an hour of my time informing you of my unbridled passion for indie rock, in which case, good for you.
Either way, you can sleep safe with the knowledge that there is another geek out there desperately waiting for the same hot commodities you are.**
*Last week, I found myself in the midst of karaoke night at the town bar (that’s right, singular, as in only bar in town), wrestling with the idea of singing “Brick,“ mostly so I could shout “This song’s about abortion!” mid-song. But I didn’t. Maybe I wasn’t drunk enough. Maybe I thought people would drown themselves in beer. But at least I came up with a more depressing bar song than my brother’s favorite, The Eagles’ “Desperado.” But then, there’s always next week.
**Please note that if you like any of these suggestions, you should already be listening to Bon Iver’s record For Emma, Forever Ago. It’s maybe better than all four of these albums. I may regret that statement next Wednesday, but I doubt it.