January 12, 2010, 7:08 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

OK Go – “of The Blue Colour of The Sky”


OK Go became famous for videos in which the band’s members were seen dancing, so it’s natural that its new album “Of the Blue Colour of the Sky” comes straight from the hips. But “Colour” is a funny kind of floor-filler, one that takes all the source material of ’70s downtown disco, ’80s Lothario funk and early aughts punk-funk and makes an unexpectedly rewarding headphones album from it.

OK Go has the mixed blessing of being a popular band that lacks any trademark sound. On “Colour,” that’s a feature, not a bug. They gallivant from deliciously spare red-eyed funk on “Skyscrapers” to spangled Blondie-ish rock on “I Want You So Bad I Can’t Breathe” and “End Love.” Dreamboat singer Damian Kulash rocks a swell ascot, but here he comes off as a falsetto-swinging sex god (he’s said “Purple Rain” was a big influence here), and lo and behold it works.

Synth-besotted “WTF?” is the best pop single in 5/4 time in, well, maybe forever, and even the hokier vocoder experiments like “Before the Earth Was Round” seem pitch-perfect in context.

Vampire Weekend – “Contra”


A lover of words in all their ambiguity, Vampire Weekend frontman Ezra Koenig makes for an unlikely sloganeer. “I see a mansard roof through the trees,” he sang at the top of this New York City quartet’s 2008 debut, “I see a salty message written in the eaves.”

Nonetheless, here’s Koenig near the end of “Contra,” Vampire Weekend’s highly anticipated sophomore disc out Tuesday: “Never pick sides / Never choose between two.” Coming from a guy whose idea of a catchy rhyme is “horchata” and “balaclava,” that’s basically Rage Against the Machine territory.

Listening to this tidy but complicated 10-song set, you can understand what drove Koenig to such uncharacteristic clarity: “Contra” captures the sound of a band attempting (and very often succeeding) to find a space between opposing impulses — between, as the singer puts it in “I Think UR a Contra,” the album’s closing ballad, “rock and roll” and “complete control.”

Which one would/will you buy?


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