What Went Down

Review: Foals – What Went Down

Few bands are as underappreciated stateside as Foals.  Since the release of Total Life Forever, the band has cultivated an intriguing niche that blends an innovative take on groovy math-rock with aggressive conventional rock elements, all with plenty of hooks to spare (see: “This Orient”; “My Number”).  Though the group has developed into a touring force, that success has not translated into record sales or buzz for their latest release.  In all likelihood, What Went Down will not mark the band’s breakthrough into the mainstream, which is a damn shame because it is an excellent record.

What Went Down serves as a crystallization of many of the musical ideas of their previous album, Holy Fire, with the band hitting harder with their attacks and crafting bigger choruses.  The energetic opening title track and the epic closer “A Knife In The Ocean” are two of the best songs that Foals have written in their career, and serve as the perfect bookends to the album.  In between, the band finds some fascinating detours to explore, most notably “Snake Oil”, which does a fantastic job of alternating between motorik and half-time rhythms.

Frontman Yannis Philippakis sounds especially great, and he seems more comfortable than ever with his unique voice.  In addition to crafting excellent melodies, Philippakis also effectively shifts between different timbres to evoke a wide variety of emotions, making What Went Down a truly affecting work.  The rest of the band does not slack off either, and each member engages in interesting textural experimentation with the group’s signature sound.

It is amazing that Foals are still able to find new avenues to explore within their unique style, and that the band can continue to top themselves with each successive release.  Maybe What Went Down will provide the spark for the rest of the American music scene to begin to pay attention to the guys from Oxford.

Advertisements

Over the Weekend (Aug. 24 Edition)

New music, news, and other fun stuff to help start your week…

Last night marked the end (?) of the beloved and bizarre animated series Aqua Teen Hunger Force, but before the show officially said goodbye, the folks at Adult Swim enlisted the help of a legendary artist who is a surprisingly devoted fan: Patti Smith.  Smith gave a brief interview to Pitchfork explaining both her love of the show and how she ended up recording the song for the series finale.

Over the weekend, a pretty goddamn awesome supergroup convened up in Seattle to pay tribute to the legendary punk album Raw Power from Iggy & The Stooges.  Mike McCready from Pearl Jam, Mark Arm from Mudhoney, Barrett Martin from Screaming Trees, and Duff McKagan from Guns ‘N Roses got together for the charity gig in support of radio station KEXP, and Stereogum has some of the footage from this memorable gig.

Foals are set to release their latest album, What Went Down, this Friday.  They have released several videos to help build anticipation for the new album already, and today the group released their latest with a “CCTV” version of the low-key “London Thunder”.

!!! announced dates for a tour this fall, and I highly recommend that you check your calendars to see if you are free the night they hit your town, because there are few things in life that are as fun as a !!! show.  The band also shared a goofy lyric video for new single “Freedom ’15”, off their upcoming album As If, which will be released on October 16.

For those of you looking for a fun way to kill some time, check out this piece which attempts to determine what recent songs have become timeless through an analysis of Spotify play counts.

Finally, enjoy killing some time with a couple of lists.  First, Willamette Week offers the 21 Best Songs About Portland, which does a fair job of covering the city’s unusual musical history.  Due to a technicality that the song must explicitly reference Rip City in some capacity, the best song about Portland was excluded, but otherwise it was a solid attempt.  And then for the giant time-waster, Pitchfork has decided to use this as a dead week to promote their list of the 200 Best Songs of the 80’s.

Embedded above is the best (and most accurate) song about Portland.  You have probably heard it before.