THE WILLAMETTE WEEK (Jason Simms)
constructed to demand repeated listens...brilliant and fleeting moments...
Both the Mars Volta and Agalloch claim to be more influenced by film than by music. I never really understood how that works, but moments on the new album from Drats!!!, Welcome to New Granada..a rock operetta based (not only in content, but in form) on the film Over the Edge..help me make sense of such cinematic inspiration.
The penultimate track, 'The March (Trash the Place),' for instance, depicts the climax of Matt Dillon's 1979 debut, during which a pack of about 40 kids lock their parents in a PTA meeting of sorts and then destroy their cars and most of the school..a plot fittingly captured by the song's anthemic, driving, Ramones-style punk. In the film, shots of destruction are cut with the parents panicking and screaming at each other to 'remain calm.' Drats!!! borrows this cinemagraphic strategy, switching to a funky, keyboard-led section a couple of times, which makes each return to the yelled refrain 'Trash the place!' all the more intoxicating.
'Johnny the Mute' seems like a simple character sketch at first, until the final chorus..featuring a cowbell struck once, then twice accompanied by the line 'one click for yes/ Two clicks for no'..suddenly recalls the speechless boy delivering tragic news by tapping over the phone. The scene is made more poignant on the record because it sneaks up on you...New Granada (named after the planned community where the movie is set) is extremely polished and constructed to demand repeated listens..from both fans of Over the Edge and those who have never seen it (I heard the record first and liked it immediately). Even the occasional cliché classic-rock riff, like the one before the title phrase on 'Resale Property Values,' functions like the film's drab architecture, creating a tone of bleakness that anchors the work. Plus, like everything else on this record, those moments never last too long: All but two of the songs are under three minutes, and their frequent dynamic changes are packed with brilliant and fleeting moments..like the Bowie-esque opening to 'Ballad of Richie White,' which, for me, is not unlike the kind of glimmering favorite line that'll make you watch a movie over and over.