Wednesday, October 9th, 2013
Review of The Dismemberment Plan’s Uncanney Valley
Shervin LainezI will admit, first impressions of Uncanney Valley – the first album from Washington, DC’s Dismemberment Plan since 2001′s Change – was disappointment. And it’s not that I came to it with excessive expectations. I counted myself a fan of the band at the end run of their existence, but mostly of their tremendously entertaining live performances with 2002′s Death & Dismemberment tour with a then-unknown Death Cab For Cutie and their 2003 farewell show being very fond memories. But in the years of their absence, I came to appreciate how singular their blend of post-pop-hardcore-math-punk-art-rock was, and how no one ever really stepped into their oddly-shaped void in indie rock, or even tried. So comeback album? Yes, please.
So why disappointment? I’m not sure. Valley seemed to lack the manic energy, unpredictable creativity, and general weirdness that made the other records unique. It sounded like the Plan, but not the Plan I remembered. But it also still didn’t sound like anything else out there, so it stayed in rotation and before long, its own merits – and not those of its predecessors – became what I focused on, and those merits were many. Yeah the tempos were a little slower and the energy probably measured at a few less joules, but top to bottom Valley was the work of a more mature and tuneful Dismemberment Plan.
Everything that makes the Plan the Plan – Travis Morrison’s mile-a-minute delivery and off-kilter lyrical imagery, Eric Axelson’s oddly funky basslines, Jason Caddell’s creatively jagged guitarwork, and Joe Easley’s heavily nimble drumming – are in place and show no signs of rust, though if I were in charge of the mix said drums would be higher in the mix. While the likes of “Mexico City Christmas” and “White Collar White Trash” tap into their darker sides, it’s the more chipper “Waiting” and “Let’s Just Go To The Dogs Tonight” that set the tone for the record. There’s a relaxedness to the proceedings that might seem contrary to the nervous energy that infused their earlier work, but they wear it well. I as much as anyone should be able to appreciate that you in your 40s is not, cannot be, and should not be you in your 20s and Uncanney Valley is the sound of a band that knows that and is fine with it. The Dismemberment Plan circa 2013 might not be the same Dismemberment Plan circa 2001, but there’s still no one like either of them.
NPR has posted an advance stream of the record, which is out officially next week on October 15. Wired, Filter, and What’s On Tap have interviews with the band, and for the bonus round, the Plan stops in at The AV Club to cover Heart’s “Barracuda”, done straight but great because you do not fuck with “Barracuda”.
Stream: The Men / Campfire Songs
The Head & The Heart have given Rolling Stone the nod to stream their new album Let’s Be Still, before it comes out October 15. Mother Jones has an interview with the band, who’re at The Danforth Music Hall on October 31.
Stream: Cults / Static
Consequence Of Sound has got a stream of a new Yo La Tengo song which will be released as a 7″ single on November 5 and also appear as one of the bonus tracks on Fade Deluxe when it comes out on November 19.
Stream: Yo La Tengo – “Super Kiwi”
Rolling Stone talks to Frank Black of Pixies about their plans to stay relevant ten years into their reunion. They’ve already had cast changes with the Roseanne-esque swapping of Kims on bass, are finally releasing new if underwhelming new material via a series of EPs complete with new video, and now another North American tour that kicks off in Toronto at Massey Hall on January 15, tickets ranging from $44.50 to $79.50, FIDLAR supporting.
Those who like a little more Danger Mouse in their Shins will be happy to know a second Broken Bells album is on the way; they just released a trailer for After The Disco, which is due out in January.
Trailer: Broken Bells / After The Disco
After releasing her debut Neptune City on a major and the follow-up Mondo Amore on an indie, it just makes sense that for her third album Slow Phaser, Nicole Atkins would start her own label and release it via PledgeMusic. She’s soliciting donations now and with the two-month window, it stands to reason that the new album will be out sometime in early 2014.