See Mystery Lights and Orgy Taxonomists

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Ah, Oregon. Land from whence I came, land to which I’ll one day return. Land now known for LeGarrette Blount punchin’ a dude at the Boise State game. Oregon really is a lot classier than that, I promise (Bob Packwood, Tonya Harding, Everclear, the Oregon Citizens Alliance, and Bill Sizemore notwithstanding). Bruce Campbell has a summer home there! Also, there’s great music in the Beaver State  (I’ve mentioned this before) and I’m apparently not the only one who thinks so. James Murphy (of LCD Soundsystem. At the risk of sounding like a hipster, you really should listen to LCD Soundsystem. At least give “Daft Punk is Playing at My House”, “North American Scum,” and “All My Friends” a chance. Oh, and “Disco Infiltrator”, “The Great Release,” and “Get Innocuous.” Oh hell, just get both their albums. It’s only 18 tracks.) apparently dug YACHT’s “Summer Song” (they recorded it as an homage to his LCD-ness) so much that he signed them right up to his DFA label. He can do that because he’s James Murphy. Who the fuck are you?

The reason I mention LCD Soundsystem a lot on this here blog of mine is because they do something almost no one I can think of does: they make electronic music that doesn’t send me flying into a homicidal rage. In fact, they make electronic music that kicks ass. That has to be a fluke, right? (No, because Massive Attack and The Beta Band also used to do it.)

Apparently not (I don’t pay attention to my own excessive parenthetical statements). You see, this YACHT album, See Mystery Lights, is pretty great. And it’s definitely of the electronic persuasion. I definitely begrudge them the all-caps name (although maybe I shouldn’t; DOOM does this and his music is unbelievably rad. Your favorite rapper probably doesn’t sample Bukowski poems) and “I’m in Love with a Ripper” is kind of a big turd of a song (not everyone will agree with me there, but the annoying vocal effects are too much for my limited electronic tastes), but the rest of the album ranges from good to fucking awesome, and it starts firmly in the latter category with “Ring the Bell” and “The Afterlife,” two songs that ought to be on the playlist at the hedonistic orgy (is there some other kind of orgy?) that I expect to follow my funeral (if any of you out there live longer than I do, and someone probably will, you must know that any worthy celebration of my life will require epic quantities of  the following:  great beer, great music, and great sex. Probably also video games and swears).

YACHT is pretty much Astoria-born Jona Bechtolt who, in addition to making great music, joins The Goonies as one of only two culturally relevant things to ever emerge from Astoria (their high school mascot is, I shit you not, is the Fighting Fisherman. I’m pretty sure my first alcoholic step-dad could have run onto the field at any given game and been mistaken for this mascot). Bechtolt’s partner in crime on See Mystery Lights is Claire L. Evans, who delivers great vocal turns on “The Afterlife” and “Psychic City,” the catchiest song I’ve heard in a long-ass time. The rest of the band might well be a drum-machine and a laptop. You might think I’m dissing YACHT here, but I’m really not; they do a lot with their lappy & drumputer. A lot more than a lot of really shitty bands out there.

See Mystery Lights is far from perfect; it’s really only 8 tracks with two alternate takes of other songs stuck on the end (the “party mix” of “I’m in Love with a Ripper” is actually superior to the original version, in my opinion. But just barely), which makes it as long as Modest Mouse’s dead-awesome No One’s First and You’re Next EP. That, however, is about par for the course on DFA – LCD Soundsystem has yet to release an album longer than nine tracks. See Mystery Lights has one other minor flaw: “It’s Boring/You Can Live Anywhere You Want” is about three minutes too long. I forgive YACHT for this, however, because it’s still pretty awesome (especially the “It’s Boring” part). And the gems on See Mystery Lights outweigh its flaws by one million shiny tons.  This style of music may be a bit outside of some people’s comfort zone (hell, it’s out of mine), but it’s the kind of album you’ll hear in the background at a party (or an orgy of the hedonistic or non-hedonistic variety) and start nodding your head. And then you’ll run over to the host of the party/orgy (aren’t orgies a kind of party? And if not, shouldn’t they be? I need an orgy taxonomist, forthwith!) and demand to know what that great music is. And the host will be James Murphy and he’ll tell you it’s this band he just signed called YACHT. And then you’ll wake up. The dream will fade, but See Mystery Lights will still be awesome and James Murphy will still be an all-high musical badass.

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