The opening track from the upcoming album “Sky Blue Sky” is a stunning return to the world of song from the band’s adventurous departures of the last few years. The entire album is streamed on the band’s website, so it’s not downloadable, but give a listen to this song of both resignation and hope: “I will understand / Everything has its plan,” sings Jeff Tweedy, while subtle strings accompany him. Nels Cline’s guitar solo is melodic, fluid and one of the most outstanding guitar statements on a pop record in recent memory.
Citizens for a Better America
Not much of a song or video, with a probable shelf life of a mere few months, it nonetheless expresses a genuine reaction against celebrity saturation. After public displays of depressingly moronic behavior, the bloom is off the rose. The video and song creators ask that Paris and compadres (we unfortunately all know their names) “please just go away.” Of course, Ms. Hilton may be doing just that for 45 days for driving with a suspended license, trading a comfortable mansion for a jail cell. The video’s most comic moment is when the unnamed hero places the signed petition for her removal (how is never disclosed) supposedly against the gate of her residence, along with a sticker image of her x’d out.
You’ll need a bit of time to recover from this one -- perhaps book a cell in a monastery for quality silence. This is as loud as loud gets (Mogwai, take heed). Brooklyn’s latest bellow is a powerful volley for avant-punk, and the video jumps around between band shots, faux German silent footage and burning film stock. David Obuchowski shouts a lot, but the energy is utterly captured. This is a band that has not forgotten the great mid-'90s Swedish group Refused, which took hard-core to a totally different compositional level. For the real sonic blast, play the song in the audio player. Do a comparison with the video.
“The Bird and the Worm”
This is a video that propels an emo band into the macabre world of David Cronenberg or Darren Aronofsky. Elaborately staged with numerous effects, it shows singer Bert McCracken undergoing some disturbing metamorphoses. It’s an interesting manifestation of psychoses, although why McCracken is having them we’re not exactly sure. There’s a hooded figure, perhaps some demonic alter ego, that threatens throughout the video, and various intimations of death abound.