Thursday, February 7, 2013

Album Review- Foxygen -We Are The...

We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic
**and1/2 out of *****

When everything old is new again...David Kenney does a Jazz show where this is precisely the topic, but today we aren't dealing with standards or American classics, we are looking back towards the birth of pop-rock in the blurry 60's. 

Foxygen is a duo from California who have experimented with all sorts of tunes, however on their most recent effort the Richard Swift produced We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic the band is planted firmly in hippie era pop rock. There are clear influences that the band is proud to show off: Bowie, Dylan, Beatles, Beach Boy, The Band, The Kinks...the list goes on and on as the band sings about San Fransisco (often), doors of consciousness, flowers and tea.

"Shuggie" is the first single off the disk and the best track here with it's grooving horns, bubbling beat and big chorus. It is also no coincidence it is one of the shorter tracks as this sort of pop rock works best in quicker doses accentuating the unique changes and quirks.

"No Destruction" rambles along actually calling to mind a much more recent influence in Stephen Malkmus while "On Blue Mountain" gets it's 60's psychedelic grooving on, complete with a "Suspicious Minds" influenced/ripped chorus. However on "San Fransisco" the duo just seems to rattle out cliches both musically and lyrically that are weak parody at best and lame tribute at worst.  

These are murky waters the band lovingly toils in; tribute, parody, from-the-gut-homage, overkill, and blatant plagiarism all blend so easily it can be difficult to tell what is honest. Foxygen barely skate by where other acts who do this sort of thing (Early Dr Dog instantly jumps to mind) seem to elevate their surroundings.  In the end influences can only bring you so far it is your songs that will either strike a chord or wash away.      
Foxygen. Using the past to create the future?  Just flat out biters? You can decide for yourself, that is the beauty of this sort of thing!

Support the band here, Catch them live here, and peep a few samples below:

"On Blue Mountain"

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