September 27, 2009

Rain Machine: "Rain Machine".

What's worse than this decade's favorite soulless neophytes The Arcade Fire? The horrid lot of second-rate whiners who don't realize that there is absolutely nothing beautiful about Bruce Springsteen and post-punk once sandwiched between enough overly-emotional glam-rock aesthetic to annoy even the likes of David Bowie and his entire lineage; enter Kyp Malone's (TV on the Radio) Rain Machine. To be "fair", Malone is pretty into it, judging by the less than a minute-long intro comprised of nothing but an uninspired, whistled jingle and a sack full of assorted percussion instruments.

Seemingly drawing in inspiration from nineties acts like Sponge, eighties stars such as Springsteen and recent sixties and seventies folk throwbacks as Fleet Foxes and Beach House, Rain Machine projects a fair enough homage to said inspirations, but completely lacks any structure of its own. This is not always a bad thing, but acts wrapped in such song-heavy skins as Arcade Fire and Fleet Foxes better well ante up. Rain Machine lacks a hand at all.

Rain Machine is a valiant effort, though its efforts are not clearly defined or fully actualized, leaving this reviewer puzzled - bewildered as to what the album intends to portray and why. Tracks such as "Give Blood" lean toward a southern alt-gospel style, perhaps best showcased by Nashville band Lambchop, complete with choral accompaniment and sparse percussion, though ultimately, the effort is overturned as more poor orchestration, croons and meandering melodies obfuscate any interest it's awarded.

Good examples of the Arcade Fire formula shine through tracks such as "Smiling Black Faces" and "Hold You Holy", as Malone incorporates driving post-punk percussion paired with shrieking vocals, female "hoorays!" and an unimpressive layering of plunking acoustic guitars, twanging banjos and growling overdriven electrics.

And what do you get when you add alt-rock, alt-gospel and post-punk together? Folk-rock revival. I know, it isn't a logical progression from A to D...but it's a justified description of the album's shifting aesthetic. "Driftwood Heart" packs up those southern-fried falsettos, shakes off the vest and pocket watch, and dips its unfocused musical catastrophe into a ten-ton vat of reverb - a particularly unattractive thing to behold.

Thankfully, Malone saved the interminably boring two-chorded anti-ballad for the latter half of the album, punishing those snotty, overly-critical types (such as?) with a rather miserable attempt at minimalist artistry in "Love Won't Save You"- resulting in a painfully long tirade about who-knows-what-or-why. Nearly eight minutes later, those that are still standing are doing so atop buckling knees.

After such a drab intermission among an equally drab set of sonic constructions, it's no secret the last two tracks evade detection nearly altogether; perhaps Malone attempted a tribute album, but forgot the song list and decided to wing it? If so, Kyp, note to self: never do this again. A lot more focus on song structure, lyrical integrity and meaningful instrumentation could do wonders with even the most slovenly of indie-rock flops.


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