Yeah Yeah Yeahs & Karen O

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Yeah Yeah Yeahs (2001), 7.5/10 (EP)
Fever To Tell (2003) , 5.5/10
Seconds: Y (2001), 7/10
Seconds: Kratitude (2006), 6.5/10
Show Your Bones (2006), 6/10
It's Blitz (2009), 6.5/10
Mosquito (2013), 4/10
Karen O: Crush Songs (2014), 4/10
Karen O: Lux Prima (2019), 6.5/10
Cool It Down (2022), 4.5/10

The Yeah Yeah Yeahs (Karen Orzelek on vocals, Nick Zinner on guitar, Brian Chase on drums) are a rock'n'roll band from New York City that debuted with the five-song EP Yeah Yeah Yeahs (Shifty, 2001 - Touch And Go, 2002). Their sound, bordering on garage-rock of the 1960s and on the new wave of the late 1970s, is the quintessence of sexual frustration and existential desperation. In Bang the guitar quotes the Kinks circa 1965 and the singer worships Patti Smith's sensuality while the drums engage in a terrifying imitation of the Rolling Stones. Mystery Girl is a depraved anthem in the tradition of the Velvet Underground. Art Star alternates between brutal "noise and screams" in the vein of Mars and a childish lullaby. Miles Away is a galopping rigmarole that embodies the spirit of Gun Club and Modern Lovers. Our Time steals the melody from Tommy James' Crimson & Clover and unleashes a crude, proud statement of rebellion ("it's our time/ to be hated"). The YYY capture the zeitgeist of 2002 the way Patti Smith and Richard Hell captured the spirit of 1976. (Translation by/ Tradotto da Luca Battistini)

Gli Yeah Yeah Yeahs (Karen O alla voce, Nick Zinner alla chitarra, Brian Chase alla batteria sono un gruppo rock and roll proveniente da New York City che ha debuttato con le cinque canzoni contenute nell' EP Yeah Yeah Yeahs (Shifty, 2001 - Touch And Go, 2002). Il loro sound, contiguo al garage-rock degli anni '60 e alla new wave dei tardi anni '70, e' la quintessenza della frustazione sessuale e della disperazione esistenziale. In Bang la chitarra cita i Kinks intorno al 1965 e la cantante venera la sensualita' di Patti Smith, mentre la batteria si dedica ad una terrificante imitazione dei Rolling Stones. Mystery Girl e' un inno depravato nella tradizione dei Velvet Underground. Art Star alterna noise e urla brutali sulla scia dei Mars a una ninnananna fanciullesca. Miles Away e' una filastrocca galoppante che incarna lo spirito dei Gun Club e dei Modern Lovers. Our Time ruba la melodia a Crimson & Clover di Tommy James e sguinzaglia una cruda, orgogliosa dichiarazione di ribellione ("it's our time/ to be hated"). Gli YYY catturano lo zeitgeist del 2002 nel modo in cui Patti Smith e Richard Hell catturarono lo spirito del 1976.

The single Machine (Touch & Go, 2003) is equally ebullient and engaging.

Alas, Fever To Tell (Interscope, 2003) is vastly inferior and largely betrays the whole idea behind Yeah Yeah Yeahs' debut EP. Half of the album is filler. Even removing the filler, what is left is the granitic hard-rock of Rich and Man, garage rave-ups like No No No and especially Date with the Night (that couples Cramps-style voodoobilly with a Led Zeppelin-esque guitar riff), and a few high-energy dances (the feverish funk shuffle Tick, the demented ditty Pin). However, the singer proves to be one of the best shouters of her generation. Incredibly, the lame ballad Maps made them famous.

Yeah Yeah Yeahs' drummer Brian Chase also plays in the Seconds with Zah Lehroff (of the Ex-Models) and bassist Jean Kwon. Y (5 Rue Christine, 2001) and Kratitude (5 Rue Christine, 2006) were the closest thing to the "no wave" of DNA, Mars and Teenage Jesus since the 1980s.

Yeah Yeah Yeahs went pop on Show Your Bones (Interscope, 2006), to the point of evoking a cross between Blondie and the Primitives (Gold Lion, Way Out). Karen O's vocals are rarely allowed to display any sign of fury (Fancy). The ballad du jour is Cheated Hearts. Add the acoustic Warrior and, compared with the first EP, this sounds like classical music.

The EP Is Is (2007) proved that the band's was best in the raw, concise format of its beginnings (the music was actually recorded in between the two albums). Rockers to Swallow, Kiss Kiss and Is Is rank among their most virulent and exhilarating moments.

(Translation by/ Tradotto da Nicol)


Il singolo Machine (Touch & Go, 2003) è tanto ribollente quanto ingranante.


Fever To Tell è perlopiù un tappabuchi, e tradisce l’idea-pilastro dell’EP d’esordio degli Yeah Yeah Yeahs. La ballata Maps li rese celebri.


Il batterista Brian Chase suona anche insieme ai Seconds con Zah Lehroff (a sua volta degli Ex Models) ed il bassista Jean Kwon. Y (5 Rue Christine) e Kratitude (5 Rue Christine) furono le cose più accostabili al DNA della “no wave”, ai Mars, ai Teenage Jesus sin dagli anni ottanta.


Gli Yeah Yeah Yeahs si convertirono al pop con l’album Show Yourr Bones, ibridando gli stili dei Blondie e dei Primitives (Gold Lion e Way Out). Le parti vocali di Karen O raramente si lasciano andare per mostrare qualche segno di furore (Fancy). La ballata “du jour” è costituita da Cheated Hearts. Aggiungendo l’acustica Warriors e, comparato al debutto, questo lavoro suona come musica>


L’EP Is Is (2007) palesò che il meglio della band andava localizzato nel formato, grezzo e deciso degli inizi (a dire il vero, la musica fu incisa in mezzo ai due album). Rockers to Swallow, Kiss Kiss e Is Is si>

It's Blitz (Interscope, 2009) downplayed the guitars and emphasized the electronics, moving the band into pop and dance territories. The electronic-heavy Zero is the Yeahs gone disco-punk with girlish vocals and symphonic keyboards, a cross between Berlin of No More Words fame and No Doubt. The girl is an angry punkette in Heads Will Roll, supported by a mega-riff while she rides a catchy New Order-ish beat and intones a melodramatic Pet Shop Boys-like refrain. These two songs, no matter how far removed from their original style, rescue the album from the abyss of an electroclash soundalike. The atmospheric melodic Soft Shock is background muzak with a bit of a Blondie influence. The album is dominated by contemplative ballads such as Skeletons (epic folk tune remixed by U2), Runaway (Suzanne Vega backed by a symphony orchestra) and Hysteric, boasting the most majestic melody. The slow, sweet and solemn Little Shadow has the fairy-tale quality of the Velvet Underground's Sunday Morning. Only one moment harks back to their wild years, the propulsive Dull Life, with a fractured Egyptian-like refrain. With this album the YYYs completed a transition that had already started in the very first album and that had been stuck in a limbo for too long.

Mosquito (2013) contains Sacrilege and little else of note.

Surprisingly, Yeah Yeah Yeahs' drummer Brian Chase deliver one of the great albums of avantgarde drumming of the era, Drums & Drones (Pogus, 2013). Some of the compositions are simply emotional, despite the rudimentary building blocks (drums and drones), notably Aum Drone, that juxtaposes a lifeless drone and funereal beats, or Cymbal Drone, another funereal evocation, a concerto for tolling bells that morphs into Tibetan ritual and then into mere cosmic emptiness, Others are wild audio experiments that test the human ability to perceive sound, notably the cryptic ear-splitting interstellar signal of Drone State Of Mind V1 or the massive, almost baroque, Feedback Drone. or the nostalgic, dreamy Snare Brush Drone, a fluttering stream of consciousness. Others evoke a sense of ancestral rhythm, like the plantation blues of Bass Drum Drone (just replace the percussion with a harmonica), or the epileptic Drum Roll Drone.

Karen O debuted solo with Crush Songs (2014), a collection of 15 brief lo-fi love stories for acoustic guitar and (sometimes) drum loop. Lux Prima (2019) was a collaboration with producer Danger Mouse. This is mainly an album of transformations and impersonations. She sounds like Diana Ross singing a Burt Bacharach ballad in the nine-minute Lux Prima, cloaked in grandiose orchestral arrangements. She is Blondie in Turn the Light, a sophisticated disco diva in Leopard's Tongue, a cowgirl in an Ennio Morricone soundtrack in Redeemer, and a neurotic Patti Smith at a pow-wow in Woman (the standout).

The Yeah Yeah Yeahs returned after a long hiatus with Cool It Down (2022), a mediocre collection that includes Spitting Off The Edge Of The World, reminiscent of psychedelic anthem of the 1960s, the bombastic dance-pop ballad Wolf and Burning, the closest thing to their classic hit Heads Will Roll.

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