Sunday, February 19, 2012

Shearwater- They finally get it!

I've never posted about Shearwater before, have I? The reason is simple- I haven't liked them. Oh, I've heard 'em before, but it's always sounded like overly arranged pretentious drivel to me. So, what's different now?
They've finally made a "rock" record, that's what. The thing is, I might enjoy all kinds of music, from Dvorak to the Dead Kennedys, but my "filter"- my baseline aesthetic is pretty solidly in the "rock" category. Not metal, not punk, not rockabilly, and so on, I'm pretty much a "rock" guy. I really can appreciate the intents and desires that go into, say, Bop jazz, and I can enjoy that, but I'll always go back to 4/4 driven by the backbeat rock music. Rock is really elastic, and can encompass a lot, so I don't think of it as anything truly limiting, but the overly ornamented, 50 page booklet-y thing that Shearwater did before just wasn't really "rock"- it was more or less folk-jazz with some progressive "rock" (a la Genesis) flavouring. No thanks, for me.
But Animal Joy? The aesthetics have changed a bit. Still odd instrumentation, still some pretty dirge-like tempos, but the fluttery little bits, and a lot of the excess is gone- leaving behind something akin to Richard Thompson. "Shoot Out the Lights" this isn't, but I wouldn't put it past them to cover "Wall of Death" at some future date. That catapults them, in my estimation. I mean I even copied a song or two onto my Sansa clip ( "Breaking the Yearlings" and "Immaculate"- try them next time you're on the treadmill- it's nice) So, it seems like they might have finally understood what a band like dEUS ( or Thompson, for that matter) has in spades- you can experiment all you want, but tie that stuff to a flagpole of rock, and it comes together is a far more physical way, as opposed to remaining an abstract experiment in your head. You can be sophisticated, or crude, but ultimately that kickdrum and snare centers the music on the body, and Cartesian dualism aside, all we really know is our bodies. Hence- Animal Joy, geddit?

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