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coverpic flag US - California - Full Moon 115 - 02/13/06

Deerhoof
Northcote Social Club, Melbourne, 10.2.06
I'm surprised that I've never read this comparison before, but I reckon Deerhoof have a lot in common with the Magic Band. They flex and flutter around conventional pop/rock forms with skill and power, and are alternately breathtaking and infuriating.

On the evidence of last year's great Runners Four album, I was expecting a show that was cute and catchy, with some moments of ferocity. Not so - Deerhoof were ferocious all the way through, which made for an exhausting hour or music. Credit is due to all four members, who are virtuoso musicians, negotiating their serpentine compositions with verve. And how does Greg Saunier manage to get such a diverse range of beats out of just a kick drum, snare and hats?!

The instrumental interplay was, for the first half-hour or so, absolutely stunning. The riffs were sharp as needles, the bass as rubbery as a whale's ass, and Satomi's vocals were sprinkled on top like fairy dust. It was jawdropping to see them burn through so many catchy little arrangements.

Highlights? My personal favourites from Runners Four, "Running Thoughts" and "Spirit Ditties of No Tone", were played brilliantly, but there were some surprises too. Many of the songs that didn't stand out on record shone on stage, as Deerhoof ricocheted from song to song, often without pause, sending melodic bullets pinging from the stage. And the lovely "Odyssey" made for welcome respite.

There's no doubt that Deerhoof are a formidable musical force. My only criticism would be that the chaos can become pretty wearing after a while, and I can understand why their other albums are shorter than their latest. However, one of the things I love about Runners Four is that the pacing and sequencing is so good that you can just about get through an hour of cartoonish, technicolour thrash pop without collapsing. The live show is another prospect, however. After about 45 minutes I was just about ready to crawl into a dark corner and start weeping. It was relentless!

Great band though, with a stunning live presence, and I'm keen to pick up some more of their records. Just give me six months to get over this one, and I'll be ready to see them again...

Copyright © 2006 Tim Clarke e-mail address

You may also want to check out our Deerhoof articles/reviews: Deerhoof vs. Evil, Friend Opportunity, Halfbird, La Isla Bonita, Offend Maggie, The Magic.

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