Sunday, October 5, 2008

strugglers by koufax

I am well aware that this is social suicide and will strip me of any hipster cred I might have ever earned. But I kind of think that Koufax is the band that Spoon wants to be.

Yeah. I said it.

Koufax's newest release, Strugglers, has staccato horn stabs, quirky drum fills, jangly guitars, and a funky white boy who's actually pretty funky, in a slightly-stoned sort of way. The lyrics are slightly absurd, but filled with anger and nostalgia and politics and storytelling, delivered in Robert Suchan's ever-so-slightly unstable tenor voice.

Strugglers is probably the most adventurous album Koufax have released yet. The lineup of the band seems to change every album, and obviously this shakeup has had its effect on the album, as the songs go from full-out rockers to jazzy numbers to Santana-inspired guitar solos. "Roll the Dice" has French Kicks-style ringing guitars; "Facsimile" is driven by a great mid-60s style bass line1; the title track has a surprisingly poppy "whoah-oh-oh" chorus. The only unfortunate thing about the album is that it ends on its weakest track, "California Taught Us Well," which is a little bit too Latin-swing-style musically for my taste, and a smidge heavy-handed lyrically (Suchan clearly dislikes Los Angeles, and as a slightly jaded Angelino, his frequent jabs at my city always amuse me, heavy-handed or not). Regardless, the songs come off as fun and effortless and honest. It's music that cynics can dance to, and if that's not magical, I don't know what is.

1. It's remarkably similar to the Monkees' "Early Morning Blues and Greens," but sadly, you've probably never heard anything off Headquarters, so never mind.

mp3: "Any Moment Now" by Koufax
also: Daytrotter Sessions - live tracks from 2007, songs from Hard Times Are In Fashion

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