I’ll be continuing my theme of great and inspiring female artists with a band that has one of the most intense vocalists I’ve ever seen, Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Karen has been doing a lot of film songs recently like Where The Wild Things Are, Her, and Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. To those of you who don’t know them, you may remember “Maps” from Rockband which sounded like this:
But for the most part they really sound like this:
This New York band has been playing since the early 2000s but their sound is constantly shifting around. They went from punk with light bits, to popy with heavy sections, to dark pop to weird lo-fi with more synths, but nevertheless they never lost their edgy sound. Singer Karen O has a ferocious growl, and unpredictable voice that can be wonderfully beautiful and powerfully ugly and gritty. Guitarist Nick Zinner throws pedals into overdrive, making most of the bands tonal sounds on his own. Lastly Brian Chase’s drumming is unreal with his jazz style and punk influences making one of the best technically accurate heavy drumming out there. Live the band is mesmerizing between the sound and Karen’s amazing stage antics you’ll be captured. Karen has been known to smash mics (through whipping them at the floor), growling while sticking mics in her mouth, jump around violently, screech, and stick her microphone in strange places while performing, needless to say it’s an entertaining show.
Today I figured I’d start with my favourite album by them, Fever To Tell, their most ferocious album and one that I think sums their energy up perfectly.
“Rich” opens the album deceptively. Starting with the only keys (or sounds like it) of the album and then shifting in to it’s heavy sounding chorus and pedal-mash sound. “Date With The Night” sums the album up perfectly, funky drums, sharp and then heavy slamming guitars, and Karen’s intense and loose vocals (CHOP CHOP CHOP), there’s also some amazing sounding guitar fills from Nick. “Man” is the band’s heavy take on what sounds like 12 bar blues with all the weird syncopation they bring.
The album hits its most intense and punk tone on “Tick” with Karen’s “Tick Tick Tick Tick Tick Tick Tick Tick” going from mantra to shrieking, and the guitars at their most vicious, live this song erupts the crowd. “Black Tongue” is a lot more vocal driven, mixing in a Sonic reference, orgasmic screams, and the great line “Boy you just a stupid bitch and girl you just a no good dick.” “Pin” seems to start of normal enough just playing on a riff but the second Karen says “go go go” the song dives into distortion and the yells of “BOMBOMBOMBOMBOMBOM” start that will get stuck in your head for weeks.
“Cold Light” plays on a stop and go feel that jumps between its near silence and chaotic explosions of guitar. Their ironically first big hit was “Maps,” their most light and popy song on their album, it it showcases Karen’s amazing versatility and the bands amazing song crafting, but ultimately seems strange on an album of mostly heavy shrieking vocals and guitars. Lastly is my favourite “Y Control” mixing in their dirty sound with reverb wailing guitars, some awesome syncopated prechoruses and vocals that land right where they need to be for the song, it kills for me.
I’ll be covering their albums this week as well as their most recent EP IS IS.