Thursday, January 14, 2010 at 9 a.m.
Welcome to "Nothing Not New," a yearlong project in which New Times editorial operations manager Jay Bennett, a 40-year-old music fan and musician, will listen only to music released in 2010. Each Monday through Friday, he will listen to one new record (no best ofs, reissues, or concert recordings) and write about it. Why? Because in the words of his editor, Martin Cizmar, he suffers from "aesthetic atrophy," a wasting away of one's ability to embrace new and different music as one ages. Read more about this all-too-common ailment here.
Artist: OK Go
Title: Of the Blue Colour of the Sky
Release date: January 12, 2010
I may have aesthetic atrophy, but that doesn't mean there weren't any newer artists whose work I followed. One of them was Jay Reatard, the Memphis musician who died Wednesday at age 29. His early singles on Goner are nearly uniformly excellent, as was his Blood Visions record. The record he released last year on Matador wasn't as strong, but he was definitely an artist whose best work was ahead of him. He also made cool music in Lost Sounds and Angry Angles and still others. Many people in the garage and punk scenes are shocked and saddened by the death of one of the few artists in those scenes who was on the verge of breaking out to a wider audience.
But the focus of today's "Nothing Not New" is on a band on the other end of the rock 'n' roll spectrum from Jay Reatard. One made short, fast bursts of melodic gold framed by in-the-red music. The other makes overblown, power pop that is woefully light on the pop.
OK Go made a splash a few years ago with their song "Here It Goes Again." If you don't remember the song, you surely remember the video, because it went viral, probably before anyone had even defined "going viral." If all I said was "that one video with the exercise machines," you'd probably know what I'm talking about. Anyway, OK Go and its big, hooky song became famous, and the band definitely played up its goofball image in the wake of the video.
Well, now they're all serious (as if the title of the record didn't give that away) . . . and they're boring. I can't say I was a fan of OK Go before, but I respected their ability to write a mega-catchy song that still kinda rocked. That's the very definition of power pop, and I have a soft spot for the genre.
Colour, though, is a drag. It's 51 minutes long and there's a hardly a decent hook to be found here. Advocates of the album will probably say Colour is more varied and "mature" than the band's previous efforts. That may be true, but it's no fun. And OK Go is supposed to be a fun band. What's weird, too, is that half the time, they're trying to sound both glam and serious at the same time. To me, half the tracks on Colour sound like a strange hybrid of T.Rex and Prince. It's just not working for me.
Anyone want to tell me why I'm wrong about OK Go? Drop a comment below.
Best track: "In the Glass," the 6-minute-long final song on the record. It's the most Beatles-esque tune here.
Rotation: Light. I suppose it could grow on me, but I don't know...
Deja Vu: Pop bands forgetting their role in society
I'd rather listen to: Prince's Around the World in a Day
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