I canadesi Zumpano (formati a Vancouver da Michael Ledwige alla chitarra e
Carl Newman dei Superconductor al canto) applicano
una revisione in chiave postmoderna ai
piu` spensierati Sixties dei party per liceali.
I riferimenti del debutto, Look What The Rookie Did (SubPop, 1994),
sono i lenti da balera (Evil Black Magic), Burt Bacharach (Snowflakes And
Heartaches), il Merseybeat (la marcetta alla Hollies di The Party Rages On) e le ragazzine ye-
ye (l'esuberante swing alla Petula Clark di Jeez-Louise). Wraparound Shades e` il singolo
di successo. La ricostruzione e` fedelissima anche nei testi, immersi nella beata nescenza dell'adolescenza
presessantottina, e negli arrangiamenti, che incorporano flauto pastorale, organetto surf, sezione di
trombe, vibrafono, e cosi` via.
Sul successivo Goin' Through Changes (SubPop, 1996)
la scaltrezza dell'imitazione non e` da meno, ma a riuscire sono le
imitazioni dei singoli elementi costitutivi, piu` che dell'insieme. Le canzoni
L'unica eccezione e` Here's The Plan, summa del loro manierismo pop.
If English is your first language and you could translate the Italian text, please contact me.
Scroll down for recent reviews in english.
After leaving Zumpano, Carl Newman restarted the New Pornographers,
a project that he had envisioned with Neko Case and
and released Mass Romantic (Mint, 2000), one of the poppiest albums
It includes the 1998 single Letter From An Occupant, possibly
The official line-up was completed by
Thee Evaporators' bassist John Collins, Destroyer's vocalist Dan Bejar,
Limblifter's drummer Kurt Dahle and filmmaker Blaine Thurier on keyboards.
Sloppy vocals, amateurish guitars, atonal sound effects and hard-rock riffs
bestowed on the sprightly Mass Romantic a garage-like flavor.
The psychedelic merry-go-round Mystery Hours, the Merseybeat joke of
The Body Says No and the electronic rave-up of
Centre For Holy Wars display plenty of verve and humor.
It takes massive doses of the Beach Boys' Barbara Ann and Good Vibrations to come up with something like
The Slow Descent Into Alcoholism.
The New Pornographers' second album, Electric Version (Matador, 2003),
presents a more cohesive band. Increased doses of gleeful melodies,
more prominent retro` postures, enhanced Hollies-ian harmonies,
bouncy guitars, and peppy rhythms, promote them to top
The divine hooks of The Laws Have Changed,
All for Swinging You Around, and The Electric Version
update the canon of Sixties music,
while the loud guitars of The New Face of Zero and One
and the relentless boogie of It's Only Divine Right
approach power-pop from a different angle.
(Translation by/ Tradotto da Paolo Latini) |
Dopo la parentesi Zumpano, Carl Newman comincia una nuova storia con
i New Pornographers, un progetto pensato insieme a Neko
Case e altri amici, che subito realizzano Mass Romantic (Mint,
2000), uno degli album più pop di sempre (è qui il singolo
del 1998 Letter From An Occupant, forse il loro capolavoro). La
line-up ufficiale è completata da John Collins, già bassista
nei Thee Evaporators, Dan Bejar, già vocalist dei Destroyer, Kurt
Dahle, batterista dei Limblifter, e dal regista Blaine Thurier alle tastiere.
Il secondo album dei New Pornographers, Electric Version (Matador,
2003), mostra una band già più coesa. Le dosi incrementate
di ilarità nelle melodie, le posture retrò, le armonie Hollies-iane,
le chitarre esuberanti e le ritmiche rinvigorite, li promuovono ai primi
posti tra gli imitatori dei Fastbacks.
I ganci divini di The Laws Have Changed, All for Swinging You
Around, e The Electric Version aggiornano il canone della musica
dei Sixties, mentre le chitarre sature di The New Face of Zero and One
e l'implacabile boogie di It's Only Divine Right si avvicinano al
power-pop da un'altra angolazione.
Jason Zumpano's first solo album,
Sparrow (Overcoat, 2003), is devoted to
orchestral pop in the vein of Abba and XTC.
The Early Years (2005) was
also rather undistinguished.
Zumpano then returned to orchestral pop with a new project,
The Cyrillic Typewriter (Jaz, 2011), while the instrumental vignettes
of Room And Mansion (Inflight, 2010) were a bit more experimental.
Showing off his arranging skill, Carl Newman's solo album
The Slow Wonder (Matador, 2004), credited to A.C. Newman,
is as refined as any of the New Pornographers albums
(The Battle For Straight Time, with a powerful guitar riff reinforced
by a flute, On the Table).
The only problem
is that there is precious little to say in the realm of this kind of synthetic
pop muzak for one who has already surveyed the entire genre on two
New Pornographers albums.
All these echoes of the Mersey-beat and of XTC can get quite tedious
if you can't find something new to add to the basic canon.
Alas, the rocking Miracle Drug and the psychedelic litany
i.e. the non-pop songs, don't quite stand up on their own.
The loud and driving
The Town Halo (propelled by a piano boogie figure and a dancing cello
figure) does succeed in transcending the pop model,
and ranks among his most energetic songs.
The New Pornographers' Twin Cinema (Matador, 2005), featuring new
vocalist and keyboardist
is another impeccable pop collection. Whether it's catchy tunes that evoke the Sixties
(Twin Cinema, similar to the hard-rocking ditties of the
Stacked Crooked with Beach Boys-esque harmonies
and a Syd Barrett-ian space refrain)
or a new degree of ballad sophistication that redefines the
2000s as a less gloomy age than it was
(The Bleeding Heart Show, a continuously morphing song,
Falling Through Your Clothes, that invests in ethereal repetition
sounding like a mantra),
Newman and cohorts compose and perform like machines programmed for maximum pop efficiency.
Sheer melodic virtuosity continues to be their quintessential quality.
Alas, some of album's songs sound like filler to justify an album for the
three/four that really stand out.
Challengers (2007) is a rather tedious experience, devoid of the elegant
exuberance of the first two albums. One has to admire the degree of artifice
that the band injects into the march-like
All The Old Showstoppers and the swirling
All the Things That Go to Make Heaven and Earth,
which make Brian Wilson look like an
amateur, but the album leaves little behind beyond cold admiration.
Vancouver's Thee Evaporators, formed by members of New Pornographers (bassist John Collins), Smugglers (guitarist David Carswell) and Slow, released
United Empire Loyalists (1996),
I Gotta Rash (1998),
Ripple Rock (Alternative Tentacles, 2004) and
Gassy Jack And Other Tales (Nardwuar, 2007) in a garage-rock vein.
Carl Newman's second solo album Get Guilty (Matador, 2009) was more
pensive than soulful. It is terribly difficult to create something
original or hummable that hasn't been done yet in the realm of pop ditties,
and most of these songs are neither catchy nor intelligent.
A handful are decent additions to his canon:
The Palace at 4 AM,
Like a Hitman Like a Dancer,
The Heartbreak Rides and Submarines of Stockholm.
These are refrains for people who haven't listened to too much music,
or for people who like to hear background music that recycles stereotypes
of their youth.
While Carl Newman and Dan Bejar still get the lion's share of the songwriting
on the New Pornographers' fifth album Together (Matador, 2010), the
voices of Neko Case and Kathryn Calder get more room and freedom at the same
time that the orchestration moves centerstage.
The voices and the arrangements are the good news, the songwriting is the bad news.
Strip away the makeup and The Crash Years is just loud country-pop,
Your Hands Together is just old-fashioned hard-rock,
and the rest is mostly the usual exercise in Sixties revival
(the waltz-like Daughters of Sorrow, the march-like Moves).
Their sixth album,
Brill Bruisers (Matador, 2014), used the same formula: a lot of
facile filler around two really good tunes:
Brill Bruisers, basically a slower and symphonic version of the Mamas & Papas' Go Where You Wanna Go,
the feverish power-pop of Dancehall Domine.
Other songs are interesting only insofar as one spends a few seconds trying
to find out "where did i hear this before?"
Fantasy Fools has something of
Fleetwood Mac's Second Hand News, and
There is no sophisticated songwriting, except maybe when
Case's sweet naive romantic elegy is laid over galloping guitars and synth in
Champions of Red Wine.
(Translation by/ Tradotto da xxx) |
Se sei interessato a tradurre questo testo, contattami