Canada - Full Moon 132 - 06/30/07
Tears of the Valedictorian
Frog Eyes hail from Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, and they fit their band name rather perfectly. Imagine big, wild frog eyes and you can figure what their music sound like. The former quartet-gone-quintet's front man seems to have a frog's mouth as well.
Frog Eyes are singer/guitarist Carey Mercer, his drumming wife Melanie Campbell, plus Spencer Krug, Michael Rak and McCloud Zicmuse. An, as they state, some other folks. A lot of names have been dropped in trying to describe their lyrical mood and musical atmosphere. Shakespeare, Dante's Inferno, Kafka and David Lynch, plus Tom Waits, Nick Cave's Birthday Party, the Monks and Roky Erickson combined. Tears of the Valedictorian is their 4th album, and must be one of this year's toughest indie rock albums. Their first three albums have been hailed by critics. When I had a brief stay in New York in May last year, just after the re-release of their debut The Bloody Hand their concert was long since sold out.
Tears of the Valedictorian seems to be sort of a conceptual album, and it jumps right for your throat. Like a massive adrenalin rush Arcade Fire, with a wild, carnival atmosphere, it bounces, bites and kicks. One moment it seems that the vocals, the drums, the guitars and the keyboards run in various directions, for then all of a sudden to meet up perfectly. Mercer's vocals are for sure wild. Sometimes like a David Thomas without the high pitch, other times he's more like a mixture of Pulp-Jarvis mixed with Franck Black and Bobby Conn. "Idle Songs" is a great opening track, followed by the more epic tale "Caravan Breakers, They Prey on the Weak and the Old". "Stockades" is amazing, a tremendous track. It's somewhat like a fucked-up Meat Loaf song. Believe me. "Bushels" is another epic highlight, like a Roxy Music time capsuled from 1972-73. In fact the entire album is frantic, furious and rather fantastic. It's a blast of a record. My only objection is that it sometimes might be a bit too unfocused on the melodic side because of its frenzy.
I come to think of the Canadian alpine (downhill) skiers back in the 80s called the Crazy Canucks (or something like that), because of their seemingly total fearlessness and tough attitude when throwing themselves down the hills.
Copyright © 2007 Håvard Oppøyen