Impeach My Bush
Remember back in the '80s when Prince made music that was equally as lewd as it was danceably addictive? Well, 20 years later, another P-named artist, albeit from the opposite gender, is exploring the blue area where synthesizer hooks and sex intersect.
Peaches has been hitting the club circuit with lascivious songs that ride pumping electronic beats and growling synthesizer basslines. Irreverently eclectic, she's the current saint of the underground electroclash movement, and her third CD, Impeach My Bush, is out on the same label that is issuing a solo disc from another critically acclaimed innovator — Radiohead's Thom Yorke.
Peaches' latest sonic attack is filled with catchy and suggestive tracks like “Tent in Your Pants,” “Hit It Hard,” “Two Guys (For Every Girl),” and “Stick it to the Pimp” (which features the hilariously quirky lyric “you can pat my ben, pat my ben, pat my ben-a-tar.”)
While there are classic ‘80s-influenced techno tracks like “Downtown,” this time out, she expands her sonic repetoire by featuring more live drums and guitars, rather than simply using synthesizer electronics to back up her frenetic vocals and teases. Joan Jett even drops in on to sing backup and play guitar on “You Love It,” which is fair turnabout, since Peaches sampled Jett's “Bad Reputation” on her last CD. Guests also include Feist and Josh Homme from Queens of the Stone Age.
Sassy, often sleazy and always fun, Impeach My Bush is a rollicking ride through the seedy underbelly of technopop.
Peaches quotes Madonna's “Get Into the Groove” on “Rock the Shocker,” mentions Cyndi Lauper's “She Bop” in “Boys Wanna Be Her” and appropriates the drum break segment of ELO's “Do Ya” for her own song called “Do Ya.” But amusing pop references aside, Peaches sounds like nobody else you've ever heard. You can feel the grin on her face with every lyric, and your feet will ache to dance to much of her offbeat material.
Peaches is also reportedly an electric performer, and if you missed her opening slot for NIN a couple weeks ago, you can catch her in Chicago again on July 17 at the Vic Theatre in Chicago with Eagles of Death Metal. For more information, check the web site at http://beggars.com/us/peaches/
Under the Iron Sea
It seemed a fluke two years ago when Keane came out of the backwoods of Britain and scored a smash album of catchy, yet beautifully atmospheric songs without using the staple instrument of rock – a guitar. That debut was one of the best discs of 2004, and it looks like their followup will end up turning the same trick in 2006.
Under the Iron Sea proves that the success of that first disc (which had hits like “Everybody's Changing,” “Somewhere Only We Know” and “Bend and Break”) was no fluke at all.
Under the Iron Sea expands on the promise of their debut, mixing longer piano-bass-drum arrangements with the same rich layers of catchy melodies and gorgeous harmony.
The oscillating drum and bass play of “Is It Any Wonder?” owes quite a bit to U2 (who Keane has toured with), and the lazy, dreamlike mood of the piano-rich “Nothing in My Way” (which sounds the most like the material from the band's debut) allows Tom Chaplin's vocals to wax warmly into Gerry Rafferty territory. The disc takes its title from a line in its single, “Crystal Ball,” which begs for life's silver lining as Chaplin sings: “oh crystal ball, crystal ball/save us all/tell me life is beautiful.”The album ends with “The Frog Prince,” a pop song that ultimately turns into an instrumental exercise worthy of movie soundtrack inclusion.
The band reportedly wrote and recorded the album in a difficult friction-filled period, and they state on their web site that “We wrote Under The Iron Sea because we needed a record that was going to make us feel alive again.”
I can't speak for the band's personal resurrection, but this is the kind of CD that will make listeners feel vital and alive for years to come. Most artists only wish they could craft music as rich and emotional as this. Keane has done it twice in a row and created very different albums each time. Under the Iron Sea is one of the finest pop rock CDs of 2006. For more information, check their web site at www.keanemusic.com.