July 3, 2010

Song Review: Abe Vigoda's "Throwing Shade"

Cali punkers, Abe Vigoda, have shown great strides in growth and musical shape-shifting in a short span of time. Catching the ear of the music world in 2006 with their debut album, the band has played an important role as part of a refreshing collective of experimental noise and punk artists emerging from Los Angeles' local DIY venue, The Smell, alongside No Age and Mika Miko (R.I.P.) Their first two albums relied mostly on a spastic drumming noise influence a la Liars mixed with a tinge of tropicalia punk, yet their 2009 EP, Reviver, saw Abe Vigoda channeling a more cohesive, dreamier landscape. "Throwing Shade" is the first single off their forthcoming album, Crush, and it may surprise some to hear that the Chino, CA quartet is heading towards the dance floor this time around. The most apparent change on "Throwing Shade" that separates itself from Abe Vigoda's past work is how incredibly electronic-heavy the song is. Gone are the jagged chord progressions, the calamity of feedback and varied drumming as the track opens with a quick, consistent electronic drum beat, a twinkly guitar loop, scaling synths and a hint of guitar taken straight out of a New Wave for Dummies how-to guide. It's catchy and it builds into the 1:40 mark when finally a rush of burning guitars (the type we're used to hearing from Abe Vigoda) intensifies until the track shifts into a short-lived dance punk rhythm half way through. It's a welcome momentum changer, considering it makes the more heavenly synth arrangement that brings "Throwing Shade" to a close softly appealing. It also fits the mood of  lead singer Michael Vidal's ambiguous, to-the-point lyrics about heaven and the day that you die. Vidal himself continues to mold a shifting vocal style around the band's continuously changing sound, as he allows his voice to build its way up just as the song climaxes instead of letting it lie flat from start to finish as they have in the past. "Throwing Shade" is without a doubt Abe Vigoda's most accessible song to date. Perhaps a recent tour opening for indie pop kingpins, Vampire Weekend (who also went for a more synth-pleasing direction on their latest effort) rubbed off on them for the better. Regardless of reasons, "Throwing Shade" does a great job at being a stand-alone single that has the ability to appeal to a more widespread audience if that's what Abe Vigoda is trying to achieve here. Yet, in the end, it's still an Abe Vigoda song that marks another welcome metamorphoses for this young noise punk band.

Abe Vigoda - "Throwing Shade"

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