Album Review: Darwin Deez’ “Darwin Deez”

Darwin Deez

He’s weird, he’s abstract, but he’s ridiculously talented. The Brooklynite Darwin Deez’s 2010 self-titled release may only spin for 33 minutes, but it is laced with indie-pop joy. Using the essentials in any veteran’s bag of tricks, Darwin Deez brings out hand claps, trebly Stratocasters, and a book of sardonic songs to craft the catchiest of the catchy albums as of late.

Already climbing its way up the UK Albums Chart, Darwin Deez is worthy of all of the attention. On the single, “Constellations,” Deez demonstrates parallels to The Strokes with his baritone voice; he is easily comparable to Julian Casablancas. This opener prepares you for a somber record, but it certainly is not a reflection of what’s to come. The next tracks, “Deep Sea Divers” and “The City” feature Deez hammering out catchy chord progressions over foot-stomping rhythms.  It’s a slick formula that will refuse to leave your head.

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Music News Recap: Meeting of the Minds

What’s been going on in the world of music lately? Read on to get the scoop on your favorite artists, and start some discussion about current music-related events!

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The folks at Rolling Stone got the ball rolling for this holiday weekend with a mini 4th of July playlist, with readers contributing their own additions.  Tell us what you’d add to the list.

Richey Edwards

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Metal Machine Music: A Legacy, and Listener’s Guide


Lou Reed

“I was serious about it.  I was also really, really stoned.”
-Lou Reed


I’ve never been very big on New Years.  It’s a holiday that I’ve always had serious difficulty appreciating the significance of.  I’m sure part of the problem is that I have the worst sense of time ever.  Days, weeks and months seem to run together like a sloppy watercolor painting. I’m routinely shocked to discover that events that I thought took place only recently, were actually a product of several years ago.  This year, however, I’m making an effort to get into the spirit of starting fresh and orienting myself from a definitive point in time, and I’m going to do it with the help of the Lou Reed’s 1975 antagonistic electronic opus, Metal Machine Music.

Metal Machine Music

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Nestled between ‘74’s campy Sally Can’t Dance and ‘76’s classic Coney Island Baby, MMM has gone down in history as the ultimate cult rock album.  Critic David Fricke noted that “no other rock album by an established star and issued on a major label has generated such mad love and ferocious loathing—sometimes in the same listener…”

A Rolling Stone reviewer described the experience of listening to the album as “one of the better feats of endurance in my life, equal to reading The Painted Bird, sitting through Savage Messiah and spending a night in a bus terminal in Hagerstown, Maryland.”

Even Reed himself pardoned listeners for the confusion he knew the album would inspire.  “Most of you won’t like this, and I don’t blame you at all,” read his brilliant liner notes.  “It’s not meant for you.  At the very least I made it so I had something to listen to.”

But Fricke later went on to describe MMM in a more accessible light—as an album “made with rock & roll tools, built from the base elements of electric teenage revolution: rage, joy, sabotage, righteousness.  Metal Machine Music was not a new kind of rock; it was every kind of rock, boiled down to its molten essence.”

The legendary rock critic, Lester Bangs wrote about the album at length.  He equated the experience of listening to MMM to a cleansing ritual.  In his words:

When you wake up in the morning with the worst hangover of your life, Metal Machine Music is the best medicine. Because when you first arise you’re probably so fucked (i.e., still drunk) that is doesn’t even really hurt yet (not like it’s going to), so you should put this album on immediately, not only to clear all the crap out of your head, but to prepare you for what’s in store the rest of the day.

Speaking of clearing out crap, I once had this friend who would say, “I take acid at least every two months & JUST BLOW ALL THE BAD SHIT OUTA MY BRAIN!” So I say the same thing about MMM. Except I take it about once a day, like vitamins.

Lester Bangs

Lester Bangs

Sounds good to me. What better way to start a new year for a music fan’s ears than by flushing out the musical congestion of the previous months?  I’ve actually been curious about this album for years, but never had any real reason to listen to it other than for experiencing its value as a true rock n’ roll novelty.  After hearing and reading so much about it from people who had already taken the plunge, I finally decided that novelty, and the pursuit of a experiencing a fresh start, was reason enough.

Few albums have made me this anxious before listening to them for the first time.  I assume part of this anxiety is due to the fact that I’m not entirely sure what to expect, but I’m going to force myself to listen to its entirety regardless of the accessibility of its sound.  Every description I’ve heard of this album leads me to anticipate the most abrasive, irritating, and genuinely original piece of musical work on the planet.  Essential listening?  Sure, but the indulgent sonic masturbation of a grumpy art rock troll doesn’t exactly sound like a 64 minute joyride.

Grumpy art rock troll...

a grumpy art rock troll

Nevertheless, it’s go time.  You have my attention.  I’m listening, Lou…

Side One:

00:43 – This is the sound of anticipation, as Lou Reed’s maniac orchestra tunes itself.

02:06 – It’s looking like being in tune isn’t really the goal here…

05:09 – Something might be developing.  It sounds like robotic bagpipes, which is surprisingly easier to listen to than the description implies.

07:38 – I never thought that the classic nails-on-a-chalkboard screech could sound so relaxing.  Surprise!

12:36 – Oh sweet Jesus, we’re in bat country.

14:30 – Ding!  Going up…

Side Two:

00:08 – Shrieking souvenirs from bat country, only more intense. It sounds like a massacre.

06:44 – I kind of want this to be my ringtone.

08:08 – This is maybe some of the most suspenseful, spooky shit ever.

09:46 – Wait, OK, I want this as my ringtone.

11:10 – This sounds like the soundtrack to birth—the unrated version.

Side Three:

01:39 – I’m pretty sure side three is the same as one and two, just with more bats.

07:35 – I’m finding myself creating scenes for a musical starring a sassy calculator with a heart of gold in my head.

14:44 – This album is kind of a peaceful nightmare.

Side Four:

03:30 – So I take it this is the “emergency response team” side, complete with swirling sonic chaos and panic.

04:48 – I’ve always hated fax machines.  Points off, Lou.

08:45 – This would be incredible haunted house music.

10:26 – I wonder how Lou knew he was finished with this thing.

12:48 – The plane takes off…

13:35 – What way to go out.  War, bombs, Year Zero.

Over an hour of undivided listening.  You know, that’s a lot to ask of someone with the attention span of a goldfish, but I made it.  I made it, and I’m pleasantly surprised.  MMM wasn’t actually as irritating or unpleasant as an album described as a “densely layered soundscape constructed from feedback, distortion, and atonal guitar runs sped up or slowed down until they were all but unrecognizable” would seem.  True, this is a record that could only be created by the mind of someone as completely unaffected by the desires of his fanbase as Lou Reed, but it’s not actually all that difficult to listen to.

It’s essentially a background chorus of schizophrenic ramblings (without words, mind you), layered under the Martian national anthem.  It’s the musical equivalent to J.G. Ballard’s deviant autoerotic (pun intended) novel, Crash.  If you’re intrigued, you should be.  What Lou Reed has done with this album is create something so wildly different from the musical forays of even the most avant garde artists, but you don’t have to be a junkie, speed freak, or EST patient to find that it approaches the realm of being aurally pleasing, or at least quite thrilling.

Another part of Lester Bangs’ essay on the album that struck me was how he attributed part of the record’s appeal to its ability to actively provoke and challenge its listeners, rather than merely exist as a passive artifact.  He said:

Why do people got to see movies like Jaws, The Exorcist, or Iisa, She Wolf of the SS? So they can get beat over the head with baseball bats, have their nerves wrenched while electrodes are being stapled to their spines, and generally brutalized at least every once ever fifteen minutes or so (the time between the face falling out of the bottom of the sunk boat and they guy’s bit-off leg hitting the bottom of the ocean). This is what, today, is commonly understood as entertainment, as fun, as art even! So they’ve got a lot of nerve landing on Lou for MMM. At least here there’s no fifteen minutes of bullshit padding between brutalizations. Anybody who got off on The Exorcist should like this record. It’s certainly far more moral a product.

Maybe that’s really why I’ve had my eye on this album for so long.  It’s the whole hurt yourself just “to see if I still feel” thing that is rapidly becoming the modern standard physically, emotionally, and (why not?) musically. When culture becomes so oversaturated with predictability, the only option left is to seek out something—anything—that can inspire a reaction until you’re reminded that you’re still human.  34 years later, this is still Metal Machine Music’s legacy.  Happy New Year.

–Shelley Peckham

This Week’s Shows: Downloads, Videos, Reviews, oh my

It’s a full week around these parts, you can enjoy your Pitchfork and get the good stuff at home too..Bottomless Pit, Immortal Technique, The Hold Steady, Colour Revolt, Bob Log III, and Scott Biram all grace our city in the coming days, check it out.

Friday July 18

BOTTOMLESS PIT (featuring former members of Silkworm)

Genre: Rock/ Dub/ Folk Rock

May Sound Like: Yeasayer, Frog Eyes, Times New Viking, Evangelicals, Phosphorescent

“..edgy post-punk hooks and understated vocals” -Three Imaginary Girls


bottomless pit

Free downlaod:

Bottomless Pit- The Cardinal Moments

with special guests THE KADANE BROTHERS (Bedhead, The New Year) and EL VALIENTE

9:30 pm High Noon Saloon 608.268.1122 $8 adv $10 dos

21+ BUY TICKETS NOW!

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Sunday July 20

WORT-FM welcomes The 3rd World Tour IMMORTAL TECHNIQUE

Genre: Hip-Hop

Similar to: Dead Prez, Non Phixion, Atmosphere, Talib Kweli, Mos Def, Black Star

“..a Hip hop MC and political activist, he is of Afro-Peruvian descent and raised in Harlem, New York. The views expressed in his lyrics are largely a mixture of commentary on issues such as poverty, religion, and racism..” –immortal-technique.com

Immortal Technique- Dance with the Devil

with special guests DJ G.I. JOE, POISON PEN, THE CIRCLE, DJ ARCH

9pm doors 8pm High Noon Saloon 608.268.1122 $14 adv $16 dos

18+ BUY TICKETS NOW!

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Monday July 21

True Endeavors and ACG present

THE HOLD STEADY

Genre: Rock

Pairs well with: The National, TV on the Radio, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Sonic Youth

“The Hold Steady might just be the best bar band in America. With its riff-heavy mixture of classic rock and Craig Finn’s lyrically dense storytelling, the group crafts intricately detailed musical universes that have already made it a critical darling and fan favorite.” -NPR

The Hold Steady- 2005 Interview

with special guests THE LOVED ONES

8:00 pm Majestic Theatre 608.255.0901 $16.50 adv $18.50 dos

all ages BUY TICKETS NOW!

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Tuesday July 22

COLOUR REVOLT

Genre: Indie/ Rock

They might enjoy: Pedro the Lion, Minus the Bear, Sufjan Stevens, As Tall as Lions

Colour Revolt- Interview

Free Download:

Colour Revolt- Naked and Red, 2008 Plunder, Beg, and Curse

with special guests JAVELINS and THE FELIX CULPA

8pm The Annex 608.256.7750 $8 adv and dos

18+ BUY TICKETS NOW!

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Wednesday July 23

WORT-FM Hillgrass Bluebilly presents BOB LOG III + SCOTT H BIRAM

Genre: Blues/ Punk (Heads up: lyrics at the show will be of a “dirty blues” nature and may be offensive to some)

Also on this ipod: blues, blues, blues, and some Stray Cats

“..an American lo-fi punk blues musician, singer and songwriter who performs as a one man band. During performances, Log wears a blue full-body jumpsuit and a bubble-mask motorcycle helmet wired with a telephone microphone which allows him to devote his hands and feet to guitar and drums, respectively…” -Wikipedia

Bob Log III- Make You Say Wow

with special guest LEFT LANE CRUISER

9:00 pm High Noon Saloon 608.268.1122 $10

18+ BUY TICKETS NOW!