Sunday, August 25, 2013

Franz Ferdinand- Right Thoughts Right Words Right Actions

So, I'm going straight from Radiant Republic to Franz Ferdinand, huh? Yup. Because it makes sense to me.
First because, Franz Ferdinand's style of pop is very math-y. You know damn-skippy these Scotsmen own metronomes, and use them. You know they mess with time signatures for dynamics, the way grunge bands messed with volume. So, yes, you can call it disco, but I hear math.  Then, there's This. On top of that, they know a great musician's secret- the best place to score a musical instrument, in the entire world, is Chicago. Seriously. I am giving away a trade secret, here, but when I was touring as a sound engineer, virtually everyone, performers to lighting techs would set aside time for shopping in Chicago. I own a 1971 Ross flanger, a 1978 TS-9, and part of a 1980 American Stratocaster ( I say "part" because I bought the whole guitar, broke the neck, so I replaced that, and I re-wired it, and screwed up doing the parallel wiring, so I replaced the pick ups. The replacement parts came from elsewhere) from various trips to Chicago. So, that Nick McCarthy picked up his white SG in Chicago tells me that he's a real musician- it's better than a secret handshake. I know, most people who read this won't care, but for those select few who "get it", this is one point I've been making since I was a teenager: musical talent is an alchemy between aesthetics, technique, intelligence and luck. You can no more teach talent than you can teach sex appeal- it's a mercurial and rare gift. So, just because a band, or musician doesn't play a bunch of notes in a certain sequence, at a certain tempo has nothing to do with talent, any more than sales do. So, that Franz Ferdinand don't play avant garde Jazz, and do sell quite a few records means very little in terms of their talent as musicians. That they can write and play some musical phrases that emotionally resonate is the only part that matters. Those who want to tell you that Devin Townsend or John Fahey are more talented than say, Mick Jones are simply confusing virtuoso technique for talent. So, yes, I have no problem whatsoever between transitioning from talking about one group of talented musicians to another, if you know what I mean.
You'll note that I studiously avoided talking about fashion- there's that too. The fact is, I'm a sucker for the Post-punk/New Wave style. More so than Punk, and more so than Rocker styles- though I love them, too. So, in the early 2000's when that whole thing came into vogue, I was very pleased to see it come back. Bloc Party, Futureheads, Kaiser Chiefs, and Franz Ferdinand. I know there were others, and they even sold more records, but these four bands connected with me. Bloc Party for the connection between agit-pop ( a pun on "Agitprop", geddit?) and confessional songwriting, Futureheads for the wonderful vocals meeting the spiky melodies, Kaiser Chiefs for basically being Blur when Blur didn't want to be Blur anymore, and Franz Ferdinand for bringing Russian Constructivism and Math-Rock down to Pulp's pub. They're like Elliot Sharp and Carlos Alomar  after plastic surgery, deciding to play Burt Bacharach-influenced Rezillos tunes. Get the idea?
If not, listen to Love Illumination ( and especially this version)  then Some Weird Sin , and Geometry.
And Evil Eye is a cousin of  This is Radio Clash.  Meanwhile, the title track sounds like dEUS at their most Beefheartian .
Just because some magazine or some corporate exec at Clearcom decided that Franz Ferdinand are a pop band, to marketed to teenagers doesn't mean there's nothing interesting going on.
Even if you totally disagree with me, I hope you take this away- whether we're talking about super obscure grindcore, or top 40 pop, music has its own value for the listener.
So, yeah, I like the new Franz Ferdinand record...

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