Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Album Review: Matt & Kim's Sidewalks

If you don’t know, now you know: I’ve made personal promises to myself to never apologize for the music I love, to never classify something as a guilty pleasure, and to never be a music snob. I quite often fail at the last two. How can 80s hair metal be anything but a guilty pleasure? And I couldn’t hide the look of superiority on my face when this weekend a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle (Raphael) asked me if I had heard of this “hot new band” Broken Bells.

Today/yesterday Brooklyn couple Matt & Kim released their third LP Sidewalks and I’ve read some pretty scathing blog comments of not just the record, but of the band as well. I understand that Matt & Kim don’t necessarily display virtuosity on their respective instruments, but I don’t listen to music to judge other people’s technical ability. I listen to music to make myself feel good. I fell in love with Matt & Kim because their attitude is overwhelmingly positive and their songs are catchy and impossible not to dance to. This record is the natural progression of those ideas. Normally, perpetually happy people make me want to scream but M&K’s constant grins don’t exclude me from their euphoria. Seeing them smile makes me smile.

Sidewalks is definitely a bit more monotone and less inventive than earlier M&K efforts, but it still holds up pretty nicely. “Cameras” is definitely the standout track of the record. It sounds the most like their old stuff, just a bit more polished and sophisticated. It’s also a bit behind the beat, adding a bluesy feel to their normally right-in-the-pocket rhythms. Sidewalks starts to really shine once it slows down a little. For a band usually known for being better the faster the song is, tunes like the perfect sing-along “Where You’re Coming From” and the excellent “Good For Great” prove that M&K don’t have to shy away from slower tempos. Another highlight is “Silver Tiles,” a long-overdue studio version of one of the first songs Matt & Kim ever wrote.

I went to see Matt & Kim at Webster Hall last Tuesday night and the crowd has definitely changed since I first started going to their shows. It’s younger and therefore more annoying. Or maybe I’m just getting older and more jaded. So I can understand the haters discounting Matt & Kim as a teenybopper band whose gleeful shtick has worn too thin. But things that have always remained constant are Matt and Kim’s genuine modesty, unrivaled enthusiasm for what they do, and their uncanny ability to elicit some of the biggest dance parties I’ve ever been a part of. You can’t argue with that.

Catch a shoddy video of Matt & Kim covering ODB's "Shimmy Shimmy Ya" into their own "Spare Change" and then moving on to "Grand" below. Must make a mental note to start playing the drums so I can get Kim's awesome arms.

Also, I wasn’t supposed to blog this week so I thought I’d throw in a few random treats. If I were to do a This Week’s Show this week, it would definitely be French Horn Rebellion at Glasslands on Saturday.

Saw Local Natives at Webster Hall on Saturday night, the last night of their tour. They were incredible as always. Wish I had gotten a better video, but my camera's battery was running out. For what it’s worth, here’s what I managed to capture of "Airplanes," still beautiful, even when cut short:

And for good measure, Matt & Kim booty dancing on top of the crowd:

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