Two weeks earlier than its official launch, Deerhoof’s 14th album, Mountain Strikes, debuted on Bandcamp as a pay-what-you-want obtain, with 100 p.c of all proceeds going to The Emergent Fund. Whereas Mountain Strikes isn’t a “political” report in sound—there’s no fiery drum rolls or Rage In opposition to The Machine-like instructions—it’s one in construction. The art-rock act, which has continually redefined itself and upended listener expectations since 1994, right here brings in a rotating forged of visitor artists, each one among whom is a lady or individual of shade who equally pushes musical boundaries. It covers different artists’ songs which have deeply revolutionary ties. Each lyric pays homage to previous protests and calls upon youthful generations to stand up. Above all, it preaches combating scary instances with open-mindedness and life-affirming vigor: “On this world of tyrants and CEOs seemingly hellbent on attaining the termination of our species,” Deerhoof writes in an accompanying message, “maybe essentially the most rebellious factor we might do isn’t die.”
Joyful Noise Recordings
With assist from Wye Oak’s Jenn Wasner, lead single “I Will Spite Survive” takes goal at company media suppressing voices of fact and urges listeners to remain vigilant in opposition to them. Stereolab’s Lætitia Sadier brings a cool undertone to the boomer-baiting Bob Dylan homage “Come Down Right here And Say That.” Rapper-comedian Awkwafina turns “Your Dystopic Creation Doesn’t Concern You” right into a severe hip-hop monitor with spectacular breakdowns, whereas gem-toned vocalist Xenia Rubinos retains listeners’ consideration in the course of the sluggish ballad of “Singalong Junk.” Not everyone seems to be used to their fullest potential: Chad Popple and Devin Hoff’s experimental piece is tough to decipher, whereas underrated Argentine musician Juana Molina’s voice typically hides behind Deerhoof singer Satomi Matsuzaki. However all through, the visitors are given freedom to improvise, leading to some impressed collaborations.
After all, Deerhoof nonetheless sounds greatest by itself. The open-toned guitar work on “Ay That’s Me” is alternately dizzying and soothing, on par with the band’s best. Matsuzaki’s bass line on “Palace Of The Governors” manages to outshine the strings, whereas Greg Saunier rolls out a full percussive unfold on “Con Sordino” regardless of manufacturing ranges inserting his bells and snippy drum rolls into the background. And guitarists John Dieterich and Ed Rodriguez playfully volley slides and spasms on “Start Countdown.”
It additionally brings its personal voice to ’60s classics like The Staple Singers’ “Freedom Freeway,” written in response to the homicide of Emmett Until; Deerhoof revamps the track as an energizing story concerning the significance of persistence and persistence for equality. It does the identical for “Gracias A La Vida” by Chilean musician Violeta Parra—an ironic celebration of life that implies grief is inevitable—which Deerhoof retells in its unique language alongside operatic backing vocals and orchestral strings, in short, minute-long bursts.
At first blush, these covers would possibly really feel misplaced, however they’re the muse on which Mountain Strikes locations Deerhoof’s personal protest march in opposition to inequality right here within the 21st century. And if Mountain Strikes often feels disconnected, it’s as a result of the theme upon which it hinges—injustice—is, sadly, nonetheless as broadly outlined because it will get. Fortuitously, that disconnectedness makes for a vibrant, energetic pay attention—a message of life, hope, and variety in a world that also wants to listen to it.