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Tag: javelin

Show Preview: The Go! Team at Lincoln Hall [1/16/16]

There are very few bands on this planet whose live show could accurately be called a party. Don’t get me wrong; any artist who brings lots of passion to a performance is worth your time and hard-earned money, no matter the energy level or content. But party bands are a special breed, particularly in their ability to transcend any real notions of quality associated with their music by pumping it full of fun and excitement. Andrew W.K. hasn’t released an album since 2009, and everything that came before it sounded pretty much the same, but he’s still out there touring and selling out shows by singing party anthem after party anthem. Good for him.

Which brings me to The Go! Team. They are, in my opinion, the quintessential party band. I’ve never had a bad time at a Go! Team show. Very few people probably have. There’s just too much to enjoy, which really gets reflected first and foremost on their albums. Their sound is something of a challenge to define, in large part because they slam together so many different genres and styles for the hell of it. For example, you could get a Bollywood sampled melody paired with an old school hip hop beat, garage rock guitars and school playground chanted lyrics. The best part is that it works a vast majority of the time, like a delicious stew made from leftovers in the fridge.

I can safely say there’s never been a bad Go! Team record, though we’ve yet to get one that eclipses the 2004 debut Thunder, Lightning, Strike. Part of the reason why that was such a success was because of its novelty at the time, and perhaps due to Ian Parton’s insistence on piecing together every single element himself. Two subsequent efforts had the live band take an active role in the studio, and there’s been a small struggle to transcend past that initial sound. But last year’s The Scene Between saw Parton return to that solo dynamic, perhaps seeking to recreate the magic of a decade earlier. The results were once again solid and generated good reviews, but not quite the raves or hype levels that would elevate The Go! Team beyond their current status. Just like the album (and song) title, they in some ways feel trapped between scenes, where it can be an occasional struggle to determine where they fit into the current music landscape.

Part of that I think has to do with the vexing mystery that is consistency. If you make good music on a regular basis without stirring up headlines or dramatically changing your sound, people tend to lose focus. Hype is a fickle beast that shift attentions on a whim in a quest for the Next Big Thing, while leaving everyone else in the dust. The Go! Team continue to deliver on their initial promise, and each live show remains a celebration worth attending. They are worthy of your love, and if you’ve not yet had the opportunity to hear their music or experience one of their unique and energetic performances, that’s something you need to remedy sooner rather than later. If you’ll be in Chicago next Saturday (January 16th), come hang out at Lincoln Hall if you want to dance, jump and enthusiastically sing along for what promises to be a highly memorable and fun evening with The Go! Team. Rounding out the bill will be Javelin and Jude Shuma. It’s part of the Tomorrow Never Knows festival, which you should also check out, just in general. Fine details:

The Go! Team with Javelin and Jude Shuma
Saturday, January 16
9PM / 18+ / $15

Album Review: Javelin – No Más [Luaka Bop]

Fresh on the heels of the announcement that they’d be performing at this year’s Lollapalooza, Javelin happened to release their debut full length this week, titled “No Mas”. For those of you who’ve never heard of Javelin, and given their lack of easily obtainable music prior to this release I wouldn’t blame you, allow me to make a formal introduction. The duo are made up of cousins Tom Van Buskirk and George Langford who started making electronic music together in 2005. They started to attract attention around clubs in New York as they seemingly pulled samples and loops from all sorts of classic songs. In the last couple years they self-released a collection of demos, titled “Jamz ‘n Jemz” and also released a couple singles and EPs (which are currently out of print but available to download) via Thrill Jockey Records. These early pieces of music worked to generate a little bit of hype for these guys, and they’re riding that wave while their debut full length makes its way into stores.

Perhaps the most fascinating thing about Javelin is that though they fluctuate between styles and seem like they’re experts at pulling samples from far and wide, virtually all of “No Mas” is original-ish material. Basically what they do is record every part of every song in the studio, but much of the stuff they’re recording is based on or an exact copy of an older sample. If you’re confused by that, I’ll just say that they’re re-recording samples while putting in their own original touches to provide some differentiation. It saves them the trouble of having to get clearance to use the hundreds of snippets that are layered across this record. Anyways, a number of songs sound like they could be TV theme songs from the 60s and 70s, others go on a more distinct disco route, some have a more funk/R&B flavor, while there’s also the occasional straight up pop song. Such shifts in style have become commonplace in electronica music these days, but the effectiveness of it depends on the individual artist. Javelin do an excellent job of creating an eclectic and exciting collection of songs that each work wonderfully to compliment one another. While the majority of the album’s 15 tracks are instrumental, the ones that do feature vocals (however few) tend to be the catchiest and poppiest of the bunch, and they’re probably my favorites. Tracks like “Vibrationz” “On It On It”, “We Ah Wi” and “Moscow 1980” are all individual highlights among an album’s worth of them. The only track that really sort of bugs me is “Mossy Woodland,” which goes into chipmunk-style children’s vocals that try to be cutesy but really skate over the line into annoying.

Has anybody noticed the growing trend of prolific electronica artists in the past year? I heard Perry Farrell mention in an interview surrounding Lollapalooza that he thinks all genres of music are evolving and moving towards electronica in some form or another. In so many ways, he’s not wrong, and with the glo-fi movement still going strong for the time being, there’s at least some evidence indie rock is following that path. I wouldn’t quite classify Javelin as glo-fi, but given their classic template and occasionally washed out sound, they could easily be mistaken for a Neon Indian, jj or Memory Cassette. That’s not a bad thing by any means, and “No Mas” places Javelin amidst a collection of artists you could call the “next big thing”. You don’t need me to tell you, but I will, that you may want to pick up a copy of this album. It might especially prove of benefit for those looking to sample or remix on your own. For the rest of us, it’s just really damn good dance music.

Javelin – Oh! Centra

Buy “No Más” from Amazon

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