Tuesday, November 11th, 2008
Review of Parts & Labor's Receivers
Francesca TalloneThe most striking thing about Parts & Labor’s last record Mapmaker, even more than the massively buzzing wall of synths, unrelentingly anthemic songwriting or Dan Friel’s more Bob Mould than Bob Mould vocals – it was the maniacally propulsive drumming of Christopher Weingarten. His breakneck tempos kept the entire record at the very brink of either taking off into orbit or utterly collapsing under itself. So with him having left the band after that record, it was reasonable to question whether their new album Receivers would be able to measure up to Mapmaker‘s adrenaline rush?
And in measures of pure energy, the answer is no. New drummer Joe Wong is hardly a slouch but he doesn’t play at full throttle in the same way as his predecessor, and accordingly the record is less relentless and chaotic, but also more tuneful. The addition of Wong and also second guitarist Sarah Lipstate have shifted the personality of Parts & Labor sufficiently that trying to directly compare the two records (as I’ve been doing) isn’t really appropriate. In terms of analogies, if Mapmaker-era Parts & Labor was Husker Du, then the Receivers era can be likened to Sugar. Hell, the none-more-pop of “Nowhere’s Nigh” sounds like it could have been taken straight off Copper Blue, like the mash-up of “If I Can’t Change Your Mind” and “Helpless”, rendered in keyboard. Which, incidentally, qualifies it as maybe one of my favourite songs of the year.
Rest assured, Mapmaker fans, Parts & Labor haven’t mellowed out. Receivers still buzzes and wails in all the right places – it simply trades a few BPMs and a few notches of cacaphony for a bucketful of melody, and that’s a trade I’d make any day. They’ll still make your fist pump and your head bob. It may simply not hurt quite as much the next morning.
The band are currently on tour and will be in Toronto on November 21 for a show at Sneaky Dee’s. Bassist BJ Warshaw talks to The San Francisco Bay Guardian and Spinner about the band’s solicitation of found sounds from their fans to use on the album while Friel covers similar ground for Tuscon Weekly.
Also with a new video are Death Cab For Cutie.
NPR is streaming The Decemberists’ show in Philadelphia from last week. They’re currently in the midst of releasing the three volumes of their Always the Bridesmaid vinyl single series and are targeting an April release for their next proper album, Hazards Of Love.
It’s still just Fall but if looking ahead to Winter (note I didn’t say “looking forward to” because that’d just be madnesS), one of the acts for next year’s WinterCity festival has been announced. On February 7, The Stills will play a free show to the huddled, freezing masses at Nathan Phillips Square. No word yet who’ll do the same on January 30. Looking a little more short-term, they’ve got four nights at the Danforth Music Hall starting tonight.
Stream: Longwave / Secrets Are Sinister