Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Neon Indian - VEGA INTL Night School (2015)

Twice now I've lied about what vinyl I was going to feature here.  A month ago, I "promised" that I was going to feature my collection of singles.  Last week I "promised" that I was going to talk about soundtracks.  I called an audible over the weekend when I received my vinyl copy the newest Neon Indian LP, Vega International Night School.  You see sometimes, the first world problems of a vinyl appreciator/collector include getting music that's so good, you just have put a lot of things on hold to create a new playlist for your life.

So a little upfront disclosure about a few Neon Indian related things.  I was turned on to these guys back in 2010 about a week before my birthday at a concert in Terminal 5 in NYC.  They were one of the openers for yet another best I've ever seen Massive Attack concert.  Initially, I wrote them off as a really strange psychedelic/electronica group.  Lots of sounds, with no real music that drones on 5 minutes too long.  I came to that conclusion simply because the girl that I was dating at the time had pulled me along to an Animal Collective concert that previous summer.  There's nothing more aggravating than being eaten alive by mosquitoes in Prospect Park on a summer night listening to what roughly balances out to music class for kindergartners.  I'm all about psych-rock, but damn.  There's a line between Phish and a bunch of high 20yo hipsters jamming out to 20 minute long instrumental menageries of sound.  {sigh}  I had a point here, at the end of the half hour, maybe less, that Neon Indian's set was, I couldn't help but say to my lady friend, "Why aren't these guys headlining somewhere?"


In 2010, they were touring with various bands mostly on the indie circuit behind their first album, Psychic Chasms.  That's the album that I bought on mp3 that year and subsequently spend an unhealthy amount of time listening to.  (Side Note:  That album is hard AF to find on vinyl.  If anyone should venture across one, please let me know.) Somehow an indie electronic chillwave group managed to create a sound that was beyond the experimental and actually made music.  All credit to Alan Palomo and his visionary style.  Annie was the first single from this album, from jump after a seemingly literally backwards broke beat intro song, Annie goes into a real synth driven Caribbean banger.  It's borderline Caribbean funk.  That may be the biggest takeaway from this whole album.  In addition, to it falling under Psychedelia/Chill-wave/Synth-Pop, I really can't help but to actually groove to this when I'm alone.  By its categorization, this isn't dance music, though it really is simply because of the funk element.  


VEGA INTL Night School is the 3rd album from Neon Indian.  Frankly, I wasn't going to buy this one, let alone on vinyl after their 2nd album, Era Extraña in 2011.  It was such a departure from their first album that clearly they were going mainstream.  You know you've made it as an indie artist when you're more concerned with production and radio quality than a focus on the art of your craft.  With this album, Neon Indian made good on the assumption that Psychic Chasms was an incomplete album that left the listeners wanting more.  To that end, the 2nd single, Slumlord, was probably the most coherent radio-friendly song on the album.  That's not to say that there wasn't a good groove throughout the rest of the album.  It's more of an indictment that their 2nd album, Era Extraña, which was all about radio play and seemingly little more.  Wasn't bad by any means, but it was a pretty hard left turn from Psychic Chasms and Night School.

The Glitzy Hive

So in the disco funk vein of this album, the 3rd single, The Glitzy Hive released in October was somewhat of a "Yasss Queen" moment for the group.  If you ever really wanted Goldfrapp's 2005 Supernature to have a continuation, it would have ended with this song.  Why?  Cause it's glamourous. 

All things considered, for this Chillwave group's 3rd release, it's easily one of the best albums out there that you may never have even heard of.  There's enough approachability to turn even the hardest anti-electronic music fans on to trying something new.

It took some serious wrangling to finally get this album on vinyl.  It's not difficult at all to get, and it comes with a mp3 download card for you non-vinyl folk.  I also encourage you to check out Neon Indian's previous 2 releases, you will be pleasantly surprised with what you hear.  

The next post will be heavily critical to RSD 2016. Then we're back to the music.  All the music that's fit to spin anyway.

No comments:

Post a Comment