May 25, 2002

Which is better: The record label or the Cars song?

On June 4, I urge you to check out "High Society," the latest release from Enon. The band, which sounds somewhat like a mix of Devo, Soul Coughing, The Cardigans and Les Savy Fav, is on Touch and Go Records - home of everyone's favorite surf/sci-fi/quirk band Man...or Astroman?

Nearly every band thinks its sound is "original," but Enon's fits that adjective better than most. To some, this may be bad. I find it refreshing. At least listen to some mp3s. Not that musicrag either condones or condemns that.

May 02, 2002

Just when I was beginning to lose faith in rock music...

I have discovered the best music in the world.

It is by a band called Pedro the Lion.

Basically the work of a man named David Bazan (he writes the songs and plays everything but bass on his records), Pedro the Lion's music is intelligent, thought-provoking, emotional and altogether amazing. Bazan is a faithful Christian, but his music isn't preachy and doesn't really address God outright. It's more that his values and beliefs seep into his songs almost undetectably, much the way anyone else's do. (Read this interview for a better explanation of what I've just said.)

Pedro has a few albums out, but the most critically-acclaimed and the most well-known is 2000's "Winners Never Quit." "Winners" is the story of a politician who, when behind in the polls, rigs the election. His wife knows about it, and she is going to squeal on him. But he kills her, and eventually himself. Bazan tells the tale through eight songs, most in the first-person. The musical style alters between folky acoustic ballads (and I am not usually a fan of such things) and Pinkerton-era Weezer mixed with Superdrag.

Each song's music fits incredibly well with its lyrics. For example: "Bad Things To Such Good People" is the politician looking down on his parents as they kneel at his grave. Bazan's voice almost completely panned to one channel; a simple acoustic guitar track is panned almost completely to the other channel. The aural symbolism is perfect.

The concept I've just described has all of the elements of being totally cheesy, but instead it's mind-blowing. Bazan is writing Shakespearean tragedies with incredible soundtracks. (Actually, make that Vonnegutean tragedies...I still don't give Shakespeare as much credit as high school teachers seem to thing he deserves.)

Pedro The Lion has a new album out, called "Control." It is another story, this time of a marriage gone wrong. The songs, again mostly first person, are harder. Though I have only heard a few tracks, I am already in love. I thought there was no way Bazan could make another album as good as "Winners." When I heard "Rapture," the album's second track, the song (the husband's first-person account of an affair) made me want to cry. And those who know me know that songs don't usually make me too emotional.

But through intense yet simple music and beautiful descriptive lyrics, Bazan's songs give me a knot in my throat like no one else can.