DESTROYER at the Pike Room

FRIDAY APRIL 18, 2008
doors at 8PM, show at 8PM
tickets: $10 advance (buy tickets)

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Dan Bejar has been lauded as one of the most original and inventive songwriters of his generation. Bowie comparisons have continued to dog him and not undeservedly, but his band DESTROYER continues to blend a plethora of influences into their own musical mélange; one that comes out sounding distinct and visionary. His music is more an exercise in old-world excess, exploring what Destroyer mastermind Daniel Bejar dubs European Blues. This High Modernist aesthetic feasts off a "between the wars" melancholia, brushed on in the past by avant-gardist crooners (Scott Walker), scholastic-rockers (John Cale) and insane drunk actors (Richard Harris) alike. Destroyer’s take on this fucked tradition finds them conjuring up a version of revisionist nostalgia, unapologetically jumping the gun on a 20th Century Revival movement… Other things brought to mind – the evacuation of a mid-sized European capital; out of work Shakespearean extras (hanging out at the bar); lawyers screwed because they backed the wrong revolution; odes to bad statues; and a couple other themes that completely sidestep the dead-in-the-water rock ‘n roll underground pulsing through the AmerIndie salons of today… It is doubtful that Destroyer’s records are 'pop' records, though at times it might appear to cash in on what the 80’s revival should’ve been all about: the perverse compositional traits found in The Blue Nile, David Sylvian stripped of his Zen jazz, some of Thomas Dolby’s more hilarious production work with Prefab Sprout, the aforementioned Scott Walker’s Climate of Hunter, and other ill-formed children of the MIDI world… Disregarding ‘post-punk,’ cause that would entail acknowledging ‘punk’ in the first place…Instead, DESTROYER is a balancing act between the Adult, the Contemporary, and the Disastrous. With COLOSSAL YES: Widely known as the 'drummer dude' in Comets on Fire, Utrillo Kushner's musical talents range far beyond the drunken-master-style wailing he unleashes on any given night with the Comets. It's his skills as a songwriter and bandleader that impress on the sentimental rock stylings of COLOSSAL YES. Having tickled the ivories for close to a decade, Kushner assumes command of the keys in Colossal Yes and steps it up as a full-fledged piano man. His album Acapulco Roughs is so pure, so honest, that it risks a headlong dive into cheeseville. Kushner repeatedly urges his side men to 'play how you think Mark Knopfler would play!' and rallies his players with calls for 'More Fozzie Bear!' when the group loses focus. The risks are obvious, but the payoff is ever greater chooglin'. In fact, the two elements that should damn this album to lite-rock purgatory-- unabashed sincerity and piano-playing-- miraculously work to its advantage. Somehow, when untainted musicianship meets earnest presentation something happens, and the results are damn good. Maybe it's just the joy of creation. If you haven't guessed yet, this is the '70s. The idealized, mythological '70s, where you're not sick of great songs because play-it-to-death AOR stations haven't been invented yet. Think Badfinger, Spirit, Procol Harum, The Band. The true essence of rock, stripped to its essentials by virtue of its vainglorious indulgences, existing forever as the absolute articulation of the form. Colossal Yes is the greatest affirmation of them all, bigger than big, and there's no joke behind the smiling.

 

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