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Deerhoof delighfully comes off the rails

Anything can pass as alternative rock nowadays, but Deerhoof is a band that makes sure no one confuses it for mainstream. “Deerhoof vs. Evil” is the band’s 11th release, but it’s as quirky as ever.

The first thing listeners notice on any Deerhoof album is the voice of lead singer Satomi Matsuzaki. The vocalist is a native of Japan, and the listener can tell. Her accent makes her voice unmistakable from other female vocalists. Her delivery is soft but her tone is rare enough to keep the listener attentive.

Another element of Deerhoof’s music that sets it apart from the mainstream is its employment of odd rhythms and time signatures. The music of opening track “Qui Dorm, Nomes Somia” constantly shifts directions, with guitars fading in and out and the percussion beating rapidly, contradicting Matsuzaki’s calm demeanor. That description makes the music seem unlistenable, but the band pulls it off nicely.

As the album’s title suggests, most of the songs focus on a pseudo-theme of crime fighting (or just crime in general). These songs tend to be the best on the album thanks to their idiosyncratic lyrics.

The humorously titled “Super Duper Rescue Heads!” features Matsuzaki singing the equally funny hook: “Me to the rescue.” The best song on the album is “I Did Crimes For You,” in which the vocalist describes the process of a stick-up, including lines on smashing out the windows of a car. A handclap rhythm neatly punctuates the action.

Furthering the eccentricity is the variety of language used throughout. Most of the album is in English, but “Qui Dorm, Nomes Somia” is in Catalan and “C’moon” is in Japanese. The only downside is the inclusion of two live tracks after the 12 original songs. The length of the album might have been short, but the two extras interrupt the flow.

At the end of the day, Deerhoof is a great place to start exploring really alternative bands.


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