Deerhunter – Breaker

I’m a big fan of Atlanta rock band Deerhunter. Along with Spoon, they are probably one of the most consistently-excellent rock bands going today.

They have a new album out soon (Fading Frontier, on 4AD), and they’ve released a new single from it, the lovely “Breaker”. I’ve been listening to it pretty much non-stop. It’s the first time that Bradford Cox and Lockett Pundt have ever shared the vocals on a track.

It seems to make lyrical reference to Cox’s serious car accident last year, viewing the accident and its aftermath with the same seemingly-paradoxical zen equanimity and ambitious drive found in Yo La Tengo’s “Ohm” – both songs talk about how “stemming/resisting” life’s “flow/tide” only wastes time, and prevents one from achieving all that they otherwise could.

I’m showing my age here; but something about that melancholy chorus melody weirdly reminds me of America, in wistful “Ventura Highway/Sister Golden Hair” mode. I also get that easy-strolling bassline* stuck in my head something fierce.

I didn’t like the album’s first single, the awkwardly-funky “Snakeskin”, quite as much as “Breaker”; though it’s grown on me a bit:

Deerhunter – Snakeskin

(Two things about that video: the wood floor and the dog make me think that this video is a stealth tribute to some fellow Georgians. And, the percussion that’s meant to sound like a snake rattle there, reminds me of similar percussion in this song, by the Aussie sort-of-analog to those Georgians. IT’S ALL CONNECTED, MAN.)

*No disrespect to current Deerhunter bassist Josh McKay, but I still miss the departed Josh Fauver. That guy brought a certain something to the band they haven’t quite been able to replace, IMO. Fauver’s playing was both supple and meaty, and he had a great stage presence, somehow suggesting both a gently-funky teddy bear, and a menacing dissolute ruffian who would choke up on his guitar neck and clock you with it, should the need arise.

Here’s a few of Fauver’s greatest hits.

How great is it when this turns into the Strokes – or the Cars – at the end?:

Deerhunter – Nothing Ever Happened

A soundtrack for your next manic breakdown:

Deerhunter – Cryptograms

Maybe just as manic, but all smeary and gorgeous:

Deerhunter – Vox Celeste



Viet Cong, a band discussed a couple times here, are changing their name. I say we send the remaining members of Joy Division, Gang of Four and the Dead Kennedys over to give them a stern lecture.

Speaking of Joy Division, I thought this twangy/folky cover was all kinds of surprisingly-nice.

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Glyph is worse than some and better than others. He believes that life is just one damned thing after another, that only pop music can save us now, and that mercy is the mark of a great man (but he's just all right). Nothing he writes here should be taken as an indication that he knows anything about anything.

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21 thoughts on “Deerhunter!

  1. To me, it’s not America but Petty that first song recalls. Though I am perhaps saying too much in admitting that I used to have America’s greatest hits on cassette, and it got a lot of play.


    • Then there’s Deerhoof!

      I’ve never been able to figure out if the band names are chosen in trends (a few years back there was a glut of “Wolf”-named bands, and one of “Beach”-named bands), or if we just become aware of them in waves (like, one “Wolf” band hits it big, so people start checking out similarly-named bands).


  2. Man, I’m gonna be so disappointed if I hear that The Fucking Ocean decided to change their name.

    I’m puzzled at the idea that “Viet Cong” is a provocative or hurtful name, but then what do I know. Maybe The Minutemen would have changed their name to The Three Neat Guys for fear of offending the Tory community.


        • They’re not equivalent. I’m trying to figure out whether you just don’t understand why anyone would object to a band named after historical villains, or just think the Viet Cong, who fought to cement the power of a communist dictatorship, just weren’t all that bad.


          • You’re telling me I’m a moral idiot, which rubs me the wrong way, but I’m funny like that.

            I’m just going by what I know—I was in Vietnam during the 35th anniversary of reunification and the following May Day, and none of the people I talked to then or since described the Viet Cong in such simple terms. I didn’t make the comparison to The Minutemen randomly—I’m prepared to accept that the people who fought for American independence may not have been saints. My Vietnamese colleagues and clients similarly seem to have a pretty grown-up understanding of their recent history.

            Glyph noted that a lot of bands have used icky nomenclature to borrow some cheap darkness for their image. The Canadian Viet Cong seem like awfully minor offenders in this regard. I wouldn’t have pegged you as the fainting-couch type, but I wonder how you get through the day knowing you might run into someone wearing a Che Guevara T-shirt.


      • – clear musical antecedent “Joy Division” might as well be “The Nazis”, as a bandname (although – since it’s not ACTUALLY “The Nazis”, but instead refers to one of the atrocities committed BY the Nazis – perhaps not).

        And as I said in an earlier post on the subject, it’s my sense that slightly more moral ambiguity adheres to the Viet Cong in the popular imagination, as opposed to the unambiguous evil of the Nazis.

        Maybe it’s just because Vietnam’s more recent?

        Or, maybe people are just more sensitive now?

        There was a garage band a few years back calling themselves “The Muslims”, they changed it pretty early on; but to a guy who grew up on the Jesus and Mary Chain (and a goth scene that delighted in tweaking all kinds of Christian terminology and iconography) it didn’t seem like all that big a deal to me (and there’s a still-going band called the “Allah-Las”).


      • There is tons of live music here, but it’s not much fun. I came up in Austin, Texas, which by a lot of metrics is the perfect live music scene (whether or not the music is the greatest). In comparison, seeing music in Tokyo is like going to a movie—you buy your $30-$90 ticket, you’re ushered to your spot, and you stay there until it’s over. There’s no lounge to escape to if the band turns out to be terrible, and if you leave you’re not allowed back in. In Texas, live music events are where people go out and meet one another, but in Tokyo, meeting people at a show is about as likely as succeeding in striking up a conversation with someone in the middle of a movie.

        So no, I don’t get out much.


        • Interesting. That’s a bummer, since for many years my social life was organized around live music (and still is, if to a much smaller and now more-expensive degree).

          Obviously there are also East/West cultural differences to take into account, but I’ve mentioned before that I (used to) see much more live music than most of my friends who lived in NYC did – they had far more options (every night of the week, there was a surfeit of choices) – BUT, tickets were expensive, drinks were expensive, your rent was expensive, the venue’s rent was expensive (and therefore the venue tended to be small, and therefore to sell out quickly to the kabillion city-dwellers).

          In contrast, living in a slightly more out-of-the-way city definitely means fewer choices, BUT far more ability to actually take advantage of them when they do come along – shows are affordable, and tickets can be easily-gotten, often even at the door, depending on what/where the show is.

          Also, I used to get annoyed at NYC too-cool-for-school-show-goers. I saw GbV at Webster Hall once, and people just stood there, lips pursed, arms folded. GbV shows in my part of the country were NUTS; by the time they were over, everybody in the room (not just the band) was soaked in thrown beer and sweat from jumping and singing with your arms around strangers. We appreciated it more, dammit!


          • “. . . tickets were expensive, drinks were expensive, your rent was expensive, the venue’s rent was expensive . . .”

            I think this is exactly it. There’s also a certain cultural solemnity here about seeing live music. People used to rent CDs before going to shows to kind of study up on the band they were seeing. I would sometimes get taken to task for playing my own songs “wrong” when I was in a band here.


            • There’s also a certain cultural solemnity here about seeing live music. People used to rent CDs before going to shows to kind of study up on the band they were seeing. I would sometimes get taken to task for playing my own songs “wrong” when I was in a band here.

              Not to get all armchair-cultural about it, but my outside impression of Japanese culture is that it’s sort of…fastidious, detail-oriented; that perfection (and perfect replication) is something to be constantly pursued in one’s craft.

              I don’t know if it has the American concept that rock and roll (or even jazz) has of the “perfectly-imperfect”; transcendence via the improvised or even missed note.

              A Japanese Replacements is hard to envision, is what I am saying. Though Guitar Wolf might come close.


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