Saturday, March 5, 2011
[pitchfork.com] Fake blood, cross-dressing, rambling banter, onstage scuffles, and extremely enthusiastic co-signs from Karen O and Liars: the early buzz that surrounded Deerhunter was the sort of myth-making that would have crushed lesser bands. Thankfully, the group's more headline-grabbing antics are now a distant second talking point to their eclectic sound. Over the past four years, Deerhunter have taken on ambient suites, 1950s balladry, charging krautrock, Stones-esque swagger, and blistering shoegaze with equal aplomb. On last year's Halcyon Digest, the final track, "He Would Have Laughed", ended abruptly; it's as if the band wished to leave to the listener's imagination what, exactly, their next move would be.
As a studio act, they've played with refracted genre tics, maintaining a penchant for experimentation even while becoming more of a mainstream viability. As a live entity, though, the near opposite has happened: They've gotten tighter, more straightforward, more no-nonsense. The tour behind 2008's Microcastle/Weird Era Cont. still contained a touch of tension-riddled shenanigans-- one needed only to take a look at the other band members' faces while former guitarist/actual cheerleader Whitney Petty did cartwheels on stage at one of the NYC stops to know how they felt about it. The controlled blasts of power packed within their setlists, though, suggested a band that had shifted their aim from stage banter to stagecraft. During the band's outing this past fall supporting Halcyon Digest, Deerhunter delivered a monolithic set that sometimes ended with Bradford Cox and guitarist Lockett Pundt creating squalls of guitar noise, a move reminiscent of My Bloody Valentine's infamous squall of noise at the end of live closer "You Made Me Realise". They possess an air of seriousness now, and when Deerhunter appeared on "Late Show With David Letterman" last month, one was tempted to use a word previously unassociated with the band: professional.
It's that level of now-unquestionable ability that makes Deerhunter's iTunes-only live mini-LP, iTunes Live from SoHo, an excellent near-equivalent to catching the band live. Recorded the week of Halcyon Digest's release at the SoHo Apple Store, this 42-minute document is far from the tossed-off affair one would expect from an in-store appearance. Songs with previously tenuous connections craftily bleed into one another, like the dawn-rising transition from the Lockett-led "Desire Lines" to Cryptograms standout "Hazel St." There are welcome embellishments, like the descending, drip-drop extended intro to "Helicopter" and "Don't Cry"'s dreamy dropout. There's radical reconfiguring, too: witness the metamorphosis of the title track to 2009's Rainwater Cassette Exchange EP, which sheds its spindly clothes to reveal a gently stomping take with guitar work recalling forgotten 4AD heroes Pale Saints. Every take here sounds as good as the songs' LP counterparts; some of them actually improve on the originals.
READ THE ENTIRE REVIEW HERE.
Posted by Dan Goldin at 1:25 AM