Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Show Your Bones
Back in 2003, New York's Yeah Yeah Yeahs, a frenetic trio fronted by the wildly entertaining Karen O, was one of the bands that made old-style punk rock cool again.
Its debut CD Fever to Tell went gold, and the group turned up in every rock magazine touted as "the next big thing."
Not letting acclaim get in the way of its artistic muses, the band toured relentlessly for more than a year, embarked on side projects for a few months and then recamped last year to record Show Your Bones, which shows a different, more jammy and relaxed side of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.
While Fever to Tell crashed through the speakers like a runaway train, with a squeaking and quailing Karen O standing on the engine maniacally waving her arms, the band's second album is far less "out of control."
Its beats-per-minute have slowed a bit, the average song length has doubled and Karen O seems less inclined to squeak her vocals for emphasis. She sounds more a part of the aural mix, rather than out in front of it. Show Your Bones listens more like a rock album and less like a garage punk effort.
The flip side is that part of the charm of Fever to Tell with its unbridled, pounding energy. Comparatively, all of the tracks on "Show Your Bones" sound more calculated, less impromptu.
Nevertheless, the shambling beat and throttled guitar lead of "Way Out" is enthralling, and the tribal drums and reverbed organ of "Fancy" lends itself well to trancing out in an eerily driving headspace.
There may be less fury on Show Your Bones, but this still may be one of the top rock CDs of summer.
Just a year before the Yeah Yeah Yeahs broke into the public consciousness, the Vines released its debut punk-rock album and landed on the cover of Rolling Stone (the first Australian band to do so in 20 years!).
Unfortunately, unlike the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, the instant worldwide fame and incessant touring did get to Craig Nicholls, the Vines' lead singer, who spiraled out of control with dangerously erratic behavior before 2004's Winning Days CD was released.
He ultimately was diagnosed with a mild form of autism and the band had to quit touring. While Winning Days retained the volume of its debut, it didn't quite have the memorable punkpop melodies.
Nicholls got treatment, and the band has returned with its third album, a stripped-down punk-rock celebration. Almost every track on Vision Valley tops its last release. The Vines are back, even if the album is small — 13 songs in less than 32 minutes.
There's more than a hint of Nirvana in the frenzy of "Don't Listen to the Radio," and a psychedelic Beatlemania pervades the deliciously catchy but short (1:40) "Candy Daze."
The delicately picked strings of "Take Me Back" spotlight an unusual jangly, dreamy vibe from the band that's irresistible. Its faint background vocals almost remind of the Beach Boys.
The Vines will not be touring this album, sadly, so don't wait for the concert. Pick this one up for repeated, loud playing now.