Thursday, September 28, 2006

Xiu Xiu - The Air Force

Xiu Xiu
The Air Force

WTF? Those might be three letters that come to mind the first time you hear Jamie Stewart bark/wimper (depending on the song) on a Xiu Xiu track. I'll admit that I'm realtively new to enjoying them, but I've heard enough and read enough (lyrics) to know that dude's got some stuff inside him that he needs to get out. His imagery is often about topics best reserved for inner-monologue, or maybe discourse among close friends. Rape. Molestation. War. No topic is too taboo. His voice often sounds as though he's just on the brink, but the brink of what is debatable. Sometimes it sounds as though he might just cry right there on the album, and at other times, like he might just scream. But let's get to the current record, their recently released The Air Force.

The Air Force opens with "Buzz Saw." Now, maybe I'm crazy, but I was trying desperately the other day to convince my old lady that the genius of this song is what it isn't as opposed to what it is (get all that?). Sparce piano opens the track before Stewart gently whimpers "Daniella, don't say be tender first/and don't say teach me." Just after this line finishes, the only real percussion in
the song sounds off – a steady, repetive clacking of a snare. As the "chorus" section comes in, we get just a hint, just one little blip of synthesizer. The restraint is what gets me, the choice to strip everything down to just these elements. "Boy Soprano" shifts gears with its angry, noisy backdrop. Other standouts are "Vulture Piano," "Bishop, CA," (video below) and "The Fox & the Rabbit."

This is probably one of the most accessible Xiu Xiu albums, and that even takes into consideration the closing spoken word piece "The Wigmaster" which includes passages like, "I'm gonna spank your ass so hard you will hate the wig master but I'll put two pillows on your dining room chair." It's music only your mother could love.

I'm still processing this album, but so far, it hasn't not found it's way into my daily listening list since I picked it up, which was about two weeks ago. It's a solid outing, as most everything Xiu Xiu's done has been, though I may still be partial to Fabulous Muscles. But give it another week.

On a side note, with the release of The Air Force, Xiu Xiu has included a poster series on their website. Each .gif file comes down at 1000x1500 pixels, so pretty large. It's pretty cool stuff if your into music posters and graphic design. Each on is its own file and you click-through the series. I've comped four together as an example, but there's many more at the site, 24 total. Just click on "About The Air Force" and you're off.

Check it out if you like:
The Microphones, Neutral Milk Hotel, Animal Collective
Listen to a sample here: Video for "Bishop, CA" and "Boy Soprano" both from The Air Force


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I thought the lack of percussion was brilliant!
-your old lady

10:30 AM  

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