There are many bands on the indie circuit that have animal related
names: Deerhunter, DeerTick, Band Of Horses,
Horse The Band, AIDS Wolf (quite possibly the most fucked
up band name since Fucked Up), Minus The Bear, Panda
Bear, Animal Collective. The list could go on for days.
But of all these, the one "animal" band that I've found
most intriguing is DeerHoof.
The San Francisco and Japan based four piece take New York noise pop
and collide it with quiet meditation on their latest Kill Rock Stars
release Offend Maggie. Though for the most part this album
is quite good, in fact it could have been called Offend Danny.
Let me explain
This album, to me, sounds like a Yeah Yeah Yeah's album being
sung in Japanese (at least I think it's Japanese). It has solid, rock
steady drumming reminiscent of Brian Chase, razor sharp guitars
that Nick Zimmer would be proud of and whip smart vocal delivery
that would make Karen O. blush with a flattery that only imitation
can bring. I'm not saying Maggie is a cheap knockoff of New
York's finest, I'm saying that it is a good homage to noise kings
like The YYY's and the spark that started it all, Sonic Youth.
Offend Maggie and Deerhoof as a band are topnotch; in a world
of experimental music loosely placed in the rock category and in a
indie scene that at times seems like a hipster class war battlefield,
it is easy to see why Deer hoof (and DeerHunter and all the other
Deer bands) are Pitchfork wunderkinds. They seem to be about fashion
and trends as much as they are about the music, but where Deerhoof
differ is their ability to craft catchy, emotionally lovely songs
that are easy to connect with, even if they are in a language that
I don't understand or speak. They are champions of experimental spaceyness,
pop funk perfection ("Snoopy Waves"), tripped out lullabies
("Buck and Judy"), the just flat out weird ("This is
God Speaking") and the undeniably stupid ("Basket Ball Get
Your Groove Back"). It seems as though many bands and sounds
have left a mark on this band. Cibo Matto, Shonen Knife,
The Breeders, Jane's Addiction, even the bass heavy
bottom end on some songs make me think of Japanese Sludge Metal outfit,
Boris. Deerhoof seem to have come to fruition by osmosis; soaking
in what they hear around them, stirring it up and pouring it into
a glass for all the world to drink from.
The question I have is this: Is there room in the indie universe for
a lighter, poppier, not quite as good version of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs?
Sure. Are they as accessible as Miss O. and her two New York "brothers"?
No, but maybe that's the heart of the Deerhoof charm.
-Danny R. Phillips
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