September 24, 2008

Abe Vigoda / Skeleton

Artist - Abe Vigoda
Title - Skeleton
Hometown - Chino / L.A.
Label - Post Present Medium
Street Date - Out Now
RIYL - Trinidad pogo party, Health, Animal Collective, No Age, Q and Not U
The Hits - Everything but two or three songs
Richter Magnitude Rating Scale - Strong

First off I think it should be noted that of all the reviews of this record on line, every one places the phrase " tropical punk" in quotes because it is a term the band uses to describe themselves. Shame on Pitchfork for being the only ones to remove the quotes as if to take ownership of it.

Music has been a form of expression and communication for humanity since the beginning of time. The heart and soul of Calypso music was born out of African slaves in Trinidad and Tobago hundreds of years ago when forbidden to communicate with each other, they used up beat joyous music to speak out about everything from life on the island, to political uprising, and attacking their oppressors. As valuable as the messages were, these songs were also an important form of entertainment for the slaves as well. Calypso music blends of Afro-Caribbean styles and in its earliest forms created a bond among a people in a community who otherwise had no voice.

Fast forward generations later and jump to a country that is founded on a melting pot of different cultures that has fused together to form one melted mega sized crayon box from coast to American coast. It probably seemed impossible in the 1800s to imagine a group of non African college students living free from oppression living thousands of miles away from island life tackling traditional jubilant Carnival melodies and rhythms while twisting in a 21st century electrified sonic orgasm yet here it is in the form of Abe Vigoda.

Oddly enough soaking in all of the history rooted in the style of playing found on Skeleton, it is fair to say that at face value, or ear value, they sound like a spin off of Animal Collective. This will undoubtedly work against the band as there is an ever growing number of bands trying on the Afro-Pop costume for size. As over saturated as that sound may be, Abe Vigoda does it better than most and with a technical efficiency that takes Sonic Youth's gluttony of guitars and pits it against a drummer that Zach from Hella would approve of.

On the wrong day Skeleton with all its repetitive rhythms could be migraine inducing but on the right day it will deliver island sunshine channeled through the spirit of a colorful steelpan band celebrating Carnival.

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