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Mondo’: New Artists Bringing the Groove Back

Lizzie Schroff | Wednesday, September 12, 2012

 

I have long been trying to bring the use of the word “groovy” back. I think it’s a wonderful word, and I don’t understand why people don’t use it much anymore. There are some instances where “awesome” or “sweet” just does not cut it. And this album is no exception. 

It’s not surprising that Danger Mouse (I swear, this man is a genius) produced Electric Guest’s debut album “Mondo”; several of the songs are reminiscent of the style of Broken Bells, a project that Danger Mouse took on with The Shins’ lead vocalist and guitarist James Mercer, and feature groovy beats characteristic of many Gnarls Barkley songs. But band members Asa Taccone and Matthew Compton  (brothers Todd and Tory Dahlhoff play on tour with the band) manage to establish their own sound on “Mondo.”

The album begins with “Holes,” a highly synthesized, electronic track with a steady beat and bass, which really allows lead singer Asa Taccone’s vocals to stand out on their own.

The single from the album, “This Head I Hold” is infectiously groovy. Seriously. There’s no other way I can describe it. I cannot help but get up and dance to this song. What’s more, the long-form music video of the track is delightfully quirky with a rather unexpected twist. I definitely recommend checking it out. 

The track list continues with “Under the Gun.” The lyrics bring to the forefront the difficult (and very real) struggle of achieving one’s goals and the obstacles that stand in the way. Vocalist Taccone sings “Were we born to be alone?” and goes on to state that “Everybody wants their way in the Promised Land / Everybody has to wait in the Promised Land.” The smooth piano throughout is a definite highlight.

The beat picks up with the next song, “Awake.” It features a rocking and catchy bass line, rhythmic acoustic guitar and airy harmonized chorus. The tempo then slows down a bit on the more serenading “Amber”, which is highlighted by the prevalent use of keyboard electronics, particularly during the chorus. The tempo kicks right back up again with “The Bait,” featuring plenty of effects throughout the song. 

The following track, “Waves” begins with a carnivalesque organ riff. The cheery melody, Taccone’s falsetto and quick, perky drums are oddly supplemented by rather sad lyrics. “Oh, my mind, is all / Washed away, all away / We keep holding on / To the everlasting waves.” (Sorry, dude, but if your mind is getting washed away, I think that’s good indication that it is time to move on.)

Next up is the marathon track “Troubleman” at almost nine minutes long. It’s not very often anymore that bands turn out songs of this length (which was certainly common in the days of Led Zeppelin and other classic rock gods), which is probably one of the reasons why I like this song so much. The track effortlessly glides in and out of slower drumless sections featuring just the guitar and keyboards, and a steadily rocking beat supported by backing vocals and a great melody.

The easygoing “American Daydream” leads into the final track “Control,” which brings meshes all of the common features of the album – harmonizing, echoing vocals, solid bass line, keyboards (this time, mostly organ sounds) and easy rocking drums.

The album effectively strikes a balance between both up-tempo and slower, steadier rhythms. Asa Taccone’s vocals also give an even spread of falsetto without overdoing it, often shifting in and out of his normal range within single tracks (very akin to Broken Bells). The album was engaging and satisfied my need for both groovy, dance-inducing tunes and a little more “chill” music. This only leaves me with one question for you – can you dig it? I certainly can.

Contact Lizzie Schroff at eschro01@saintmarys.edu