US - Virginia - Full Moon 202 - 02/25/13
Thao And The Get Down Stay Down
We The Common
Ribbon Music/Domino / Playground
Thao And The Get Down Stay Down have just put out her/their third (?) full-length album, We the Common. The album was recorded in San Francisco and in Dallas,
and was produced by John Congleton (St. Vincent, Bill Callahan, Explosions in the Sky, and more). It also features a duet with Joanna Newsom (on "Kindness Be Conceived").
It seems front-woman Thao Nguyen knows a lot of core people, since she's worked with a line of acclaimed underground artists, check this: Andrew Bird, Mirah, Laura Veirs
and producer Tucker Martine (The Decemberists, Sufjan Stevens, and more), the Portland Cello Project, Xiu Xiu, Rilo Kiley and others. Not the typical common people.
Thao (and The Get Down Stay Down) is based in San Francisco, CA, after Thao (and her players) left her hometown Falls Church, (ad their home-state) VA. Thao (vocals,
guitar) is the boss, but her backing band The Get Down Stay Down (Adam Thompson on vocals, bass guitar, keyboards, and probably Frank Stewart on lead guitar, and Willis
Thompson on drums -- I'm not sure who's in or who's former members; a youtube live clip shows Thao plus four men) is an important bunch. This is alt-folk rock of the cool
sounding kind, being quite playful and whimsical. We The Common follows Know Better Learn Faster (Kill Rock Stars 2009), and We Brave Bee Stings and All
(KRS 2008). The former had contributions by Laura Veirs, Andrew Bird, Steve Berlin, and several others and was described by SPIN magazine like this:
'...lazily smoky voice has its bitterly harsh moments, but her coolly analytical self-awareness stings the most.', while
the latter was described as '...a friendly and catchy pop record.' and being an '...astonishing mash of herky-jerked D.C. punk and Olympia-style folk.' (by emusic.com). Thao's first album Like the Linen
(Trust Me Records 2005) was a solo effort by Nguyen. She's also recorded with Mirah Yom Tov Zeitlyn, and as Thao & Mirah they put out Thao & Mirah (2011 KRS). Thao & Mirah also took part in the Daytrotter Sessions project in 2006 (a project counting LCD Soundsystem, Bon Iver, The Tallest Man on Earth, The Antlers, Ane Brun, Deerhoof, and hundreds of others).
So, what about the album, then? After spinning it a few times I both like it and dislike it. And, believe me, I'm not sure what (and why) I like and (or) dislike about it. We The Common holds 12 tracks, and some of them are cool, but others feel a bit more straight and dated. Maybe that's the problem (or my problem): the album's not sounding like it's been made (well, released) in 2013. Yet, it's got some moments worth giving it another spin. That said I doubt this record will revisit my player randomly.
Copyright © 2013 Håvard Oppøyen