Django Django – Born Under Saturn

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Django Django – Born Under Saturn

Three years ago the Scottish indie rockers burst onto the scene with an album chock full of surf-inflected pop nuggets, a debut that was more treats than tricks and got a couple of songs in permanent rotation on any number of rock lover playlists.  Born Under Saturn, at first, offers an enticing platter of more-of-the-same.  It’s pretty delicious, for a couple of minutes; after the first song, you start to realize that this buffet has been sitting under hot lights for too long and is the exact same set of material that was offered up the first time, only without the novelty, the hooks, and the appeal.

Like so many bands today, Django Django mines inspiration from the vast reaches of the psychedelic era.  Right from the get-go on “Giant” you’ll hear melodies that stem directly from the Paisley Sixties, married to the dense, chunky grooves that were delightful the first time around.  Now, though, they just feel suffocating, as though the lockstep of their rhythm section is drowning the actual hooks.  There’s certainly nothing as lasting as “Hail Bop” or even “Default” on this record, although there’s also nothing outright awful either.   That’s probably the biggest problem with the album:  there’s just nothing to write home about, good or bad.  It simply is, and you need to do something more than fake treading water to make a career out of your band.  It’s 2015, and there are enough musical options out there that you don’t need to stick with a band that is just going to offer up a dried-out version of yesterday’s buffet items.

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Spring Roundup, 2015

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For those albums I’ve been too busy to get to in the first third of 2015, an accounting, or at the very least a terse quip.

Ghostpoet – Shedding Skin  

A rather different and not altogether unsatisfying followup to 2013’s Some Say I So I Say Light

Jeff The Brotherhood – Wasted On The Dream 

Weezer without the charm, early heavy metal without the bite, it just makes me miss Be Your Own Pet all that much more.

Lightning Bolt – Fantasy Empires 

Noise for people who need structure.

Twin Shadow – Eclipse 

He was always a weenie.  Now he’s a weenie with major label money.

Hey Rosetta! – Second Sight 

Much like a big bubble of pop, shiny on the surface but vanishes into air if you look at it the wrong way.

Natalie Prass – Natalie Prass 

It’s pleasant enough but I don’t get the high praise and hoopla behind it.  Maybe like Andrew Bird if Andrew Bird was an inoffensive little major label folkie.

Napalm Death – Apex Predator – Easy Meat 

Evolved grindcore, which is to say it’s what I expect out of a Napalm Death album.

 A Place To Bury Strangers – Transfixiation

The former Loudest Band In New York just doesn’t seem as loud or as vital anymore.

Screaming Females – Rose Mountain 

A progression but not a peak, the sound of a band trying to find its way forward.

The Pop Group – Citizen Zombie 

As I said weeks earlier, not every halfway-famous band from the 1980s needs to keep putting out records.  Sometimes you should just let your legacy stand on its own.

Built To Spill – Untethered Moon 

That dictum doesn’t apply to bands from the 90s, though, as many indie darlings of that time – Dinosaur Jr., Superchunk, Pinback, et al. – seem to have figured out the knack of being consistently great.

Dutch Uncles – O Shudder 

Nice enough pop rock, but the singer’s voice makes me want to gargle razor blades.

Echo Lake – Era 

Moving, euphoric, and pretty much exactly like their first album.

Lady Lamb – After 

Quirky indie rock with enough gain on the guitars to give it some heft.  Surprisingly good.

Matthew E. White – Fresh Blood 

Like Tobias Jesso, Jr, Matthew E White is a reborn Seventies piano man looking to channel heartbreak into soaring pop.  Unlike Tobias Jesso, Jr, Mr. White can do more than just plunk rote chords on his chosen instrument.

Cannibal Ox – Blade Of The Ronin 

Fourteen years later, and this is what we get.  I guess I know how Guns ‘n’ Roses fans feel.