From the Ramones to Sonic Youth and the Strokes, New York City has a reputation for turning out quality music. Now, two bands from the city that never sleeps that have floated under the radar for the past few years- The Rapture and TV On the Radio- are poised to break out into the mainstream, as each group respectively released albums on major labels this Tuesday.
If the actual Rapture is anything like the band's new album, expect Jesus to return clanging a cowbell; Pieces of the People We Love is a revelation for the strange category of dance-punk.
Apparently, the genre isn't that popular- on the enthusiastically titles " Whoo! Albright Yeah. Uh Huh," bassist/vocal-ist Matt Safer intones " people don't dance no more/ they just stand there like this/ they cross their arms and stare you down and drink and moan diss."
Pieces of the People We Love ambitiously attempts to change this and succeeds more often than not, thanks to off-beat production choices. Paul Epworth (who did Bloc Party's Silent Alarm) worked with electronica artist Ewan Pearson on the majority of the tracks and Gnarls Barkley extraordinaire Danger Mouse contributed two.
The band itself has also evolved, with vocalist Like Jenner refining the shrieks heard on past rapture singles : Out of the Races and Onto the Tracks" and "House of Jealous of Lovers: into a palatable singing voice.
But the Rapture still employs timeless tricks to get audiences shaking their moneymakers using hand-claps, Atari-esque synth bleeps ( memorably on "First Gear") and enough cowbell to permanently cute Christopher Walken's fever.
Similar to the Rapture, TV On The Radio have also chosen a fitting moniker- the band's sounds are too grandiose to be contained to a mere CD. After winning the Shortlist Music Prize for 2004's Desperate Youth, Blood Thirsty Babes, the quintet returns with the epic Return to Cookie Mountain.
Most of Cookie Mountain's tracks achieve a haunting aura through the harmonies of vocalists Tunde Adebimpe and Kyp Malone; TVOTR also gets a hand from fan David Bowie, who contributes backing vocals to "Province."
The group's multicultural backgrounds are apparent in the strange instrumental choices; opening track " I was A Lover" uses a looping sitar to tremendous effect and begins with the provocative lyric " I was a lover before this war. now I've cleaned up/gone legit/ I can see clearly."
And as TVOTR reflects on the present, the music group creates looks to the future. Tracks like "Dirtywhirl" bring the rustic sounds of the Mississippi delta into the 21st century.
Despite the name, Cookie Mountain's tracks sound like nothing on FM frequencies. Although it falters in points, particularly the droning " A Method," Return to Cookie Mountain is consistently challenging and interesting- a rarity.,Bryan O'toole