Saturday, July 24, 2010

The Myonics "O Africa, Brave Africa!"

When listening to The Myonics on my laptop one evening, I was overcome with the urge to write to songwriter/bandleader Jasper Leach (also formerly of Symbolick Jews) and ask "Have I ever told you how much your voice sounds like John Linnell?" Annoyed, I can only assume, he said "Yeah, you've mentioned that a couple times before".

However, the comparisons between Oakland's The Myonics and Brooklyn's They Might Be Giants end here. Perhaps it's something about familiarity? O Africa, Brave Africa! is, at once, one of the most familiar albums you'll hear this year, as well as one of the freshest.

Musically, The Myonics are a bit scatterbrained here...but in this case, it works really well! The album begins with a slow, growling prelude of sorts with "Cloud Is Lifted", featuring a beautiful melody over minimalist instrumentation (in this case, a lone guitar and viola). "Sweatshop" is a fun, rollicking number that reminds me a bit of Gibby Haynes' solo stuff. "Visibly Wasted" is loud, violent and reckless...the kind of song I'm always hoping doesn't come up next on my iPod playlist when I'm trying to go to sleep.

Then we get to "Matter", which is one of my favorite songs anybody has ever written. Here, Leach's songwriting creeps eerily close to Linnell's, particularly in the song's bridge. This song encapsulates everything that was cool about 90's alternative riff-rock. "Public Death", one of the later tracks, is another great one. It starts with driving guitars and fist-pumping chants from the band...and then everything falls apart in perfect unison, like an old truck falling apart as it drives down the highway. Highly effective musical imagery, whether it was intentional or not.

The Myonics are apparently starting to get some good press, and they put on a really fun show, so don't miss a chance to see them (when I saw them they had two great drummers). Definitely a band to keep an eye on these next couple years...but don't take my word for it. (Apologies to LeVar Burton.) -Matt

Listen to "Matter"

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