Today’s Sounds: Dan Deacon
Dan Deacon, America (Domino)
You’ve never seen anything as big as Dan Deacon’s ambition. At least not all at once. His shows are mammoth, mind-blowing spectacles. His records, this one in particular, bridge the largesse of accessible pop with the intimidating girth of contemporary classical composition and the massive heft of electronic music. It’s big!
Deacon’s not the first musician to take on “America” as a theme. There’s that shitty ’70s band. There’s Sufjan Stevens’ (presumably, wisely aborted) 50-album state series. But this is different. Largely instrumental, save for some deeply buried vocals, the record evokes the chaos, beauty and breadth of urban USA.
As for the rural USA, the dense electronics and busy symphonic barrages don’t scream farmland to me, but that’s subjective — there is some downtime here, some relief from the flurry of sonic glitter, that just might recall images of rolling hills, dense forests and dirty rivers.
Not so on the lead track, the aggressive electronic workout “Guildford Avenue Bridge,” which captures the way many of us feel about the USA right now, in the midst of another disgusting election season, with ridiculous shootings happening every second day. Maybe that’s just me projecting.
Deacon’s music is positive to the core, whether it’s punching you, molesting you, caressing you or making you cry. Is there a hug in there somewhere? Of course. “USA I: Is a Monster.”
From Memphis, this indie pop band keeps it simple and catchy, but builds up the power impressively over its brief 2:17 runtime. If you were a fan of Broadcast, you might find comfort in the vocals, which are very reminiscent of the late Trish Keenan.
Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti, “Only in My Dreams”
The dude whose rise to prominence inadvertently popularized the term “chillwave,” and attracted a lawsuit from a former drummer just this week, makes music that is, let’s say, dubious. But I dare you not to be entertained by this ridiculous video.