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By Ben Cohen a “legendary master of the left field.” -BRP!

“Unintentionally misunderstood since 1975.” –Anonymous

“A big f@#k you, to the audience.” -B. Pendarvis

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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Review: MadLove's Debut

On second listening MadLove grows wings. This year to date has produced only two albums worth your verge of economic collapse dollar, The Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ It’s Blitz! and MadLove’s White With Foam. It is only coincidence that these two albums are similarly influenced. The previous albums of this past decade that have lived up to this hype are as diverse as: The Melvins, Stereolab (2008), Norther State, Spandex Tiger, Queens of the Stone Age, Battles, Fishbone, Fiest, Imperial Teen, Goon Moon (2007), Wolfmother, Mars Volta, Narlse Barkely (2006), System of a Down, Gorillaz, QOTSA, Hella (2005), Jill Scott, Eagles of Death Metal (2004), Darkness, The Strokes (2003), Dillinger Escape Plan, Balckalicious, QOTSA (2002) Tomahawk, John Zorn, Fantomas, Orbital (2001), Pantera, Aisler Set and QOTSA (2000). Anyway, MadLove lives in the aesthetic of its contemporaries like Interpol, The Yeah Yeah Yeah’s, Blond Redheads, Elysian Fields and Bjork. As well of course, pulling from their influences The Cure, The Smiths, Bauhaus, Siouxsie and the Banshees ect…it is the aesthetic that appeals to me most among rock sensibilities. White With Foam boasts five “five star” tracks (Rats With Wings, Thread, Absence & Noise, Left With Nothing and All the Nerve Endings), but I would still characterize the entire album as sitting in a solid rock pocket. While never grabbing you and thrashing you around with a hook that lives on to tease you with that damn song you can’t get out of your head. MadLove founder Trevor Dunn is the unsung foundation of most previous projects he has been a part of. As a drummer I assume he is a bassists bassist. He does not live in the stratosphere of Jack Bruce or Les Claypool. He is not my favorite kind of bassist (female…hay there is just something hot about a girl with a bass), so he is no Jone Stebbins, Alicia Vanden Heuvel or Kim Deal. But he is Mike Patton’s favorite and he is likely the bassist I have seen most live as a member of Mr. Bungle, Fanotmas and his own jazz trio Trevor Dunn’s Trio Convalescent. He has also played with genius John Zorn, so he is certainly always in good company. He really is the Clark Kent (mild mannered, but still super) on stage. This all feeds into the characterization of this new album. Don’t let the glasses fool you. He has assembled an international mix of underexposed talent. Lead vocalist Sunny Kim (South Korea) has qualities that hark of Bjork, Jennifer Charles, Karen O and a female Paul Banks…of course. Hilmar Jansson’s (Iceland) guitar is at times under stated, straightforward and at other times captures subtly contemporary jazz experimentation, truly though it is just solid rock guitar like again Paul Banks. Ches Smith comes with the same sort of Jazz background as Dunn, but plays in the pocket just as Dunn does on this album. At times Dunn and Kim exchange vocal roles and the result is more Kim Deal and Francis Black (Pixies) then John Doe and Xaine (X). But really it is neither, both just sit in that pocket. In the iTunes days of play lists and the post mix tape world this album reminds you of the joy of listeing to an album all the way through.

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