Parts & Labor – Mapmaker

27 07 2008

Parts & LaborMapmaker
2007 – Jagjaguwar/Brah

Okay, so, apologies to the 3 people who have found and read (or did read, until I stopped writing) this blog. I hit a writer’s block – ironic, since I’m not a writer and suck at it when I do it recreationally. Ah well; so it goes.

The album that finally inspired my ass back into writing was Parts & Labor’s Mapmaker. I worked the day shift at the record store on Friday, and my still-mostly-drunk coworker bought me this record after seeing that I’d been listening to Husker Du the night before, which was nice of him, since I’m broke until Wednesday. He told me to take it home and listen to it loud, which I didn’t do, since the only system I currently have is my laptop, which only has one working speaker. Instead, I put it on my ipod and listened to it on my long walk to work the next day.

Yow.

I kind of thought my coworker was talking shit when he said these guys took a page from Husker Du. I mean, they’re from Brooklyn. I figured they might have a good song or two, but I was in no way prepared for what this album sounds like. It does kind of sound like Husker Du, but it sounds like Husker Du and something else… it sounds like Husker Du smashed up with The Dismemberment Plan. Actually, at first, I thought the singer was Dismemberment Plan frontman, Travis Morrison, but it’s not. In fact, the four guys in Parts & Labor don’t really seem to be or have been in any other bands at all.

But what’s it like, really?

Mapmaker sounds like all the stuff that other people think is so great about Animal Collective (noisy, sort-of-long songs and lots of dynamics and soaring vocals and kind of a freewheeling, letting loose kind of feeling to the whole enterprise) but done, well, well, rather than in a profoundly irritating fake-animal way like A.C. That is to say, it’s driving Husker Du-esque drums (with lots of tight, interesting flourishes – the drumming on this album rules), soaring, distant and echo-y sounding vocals, lots of weird, electronic guitar and keyboard-ish noises that sound like drills and buzzsaws half the time, no bass on half the songs, and even the odd electronic beat or squawk thrown in. There’s lots of energy, and the songwriting is tight enough to keep all the disparate sounds from sounding like an annoying pile of trendy noise. There are even a few dance-y kind of hooky tunes, but not enough to make this a dance band in any sense of the word. What I mean to get at is that this is a band that is better than the sum of its parts and that looks worse on paper.

Finally, these guys sound like they mean it, and I suppose that’s probably what I like most about this album. Yes, there are lots of trendy, hip, elements in their songs, but that doesn’t seem to really matter in the face of the four guys in the band just, for lack of a better term, givin’er. It’s totally shitty of me to say, but Parts & Labor sound like they love music and love playing, and hearing this album made me realize how relatively rare that is in music coming out today.

Thanks for getting me out of my slump, guys.

Also Listened (some picks from the last 45 days):
Beck – Modern Guilt
Alejandro Escovedo – Real Animal
Quest For Fire – S/T
Husker Du – Flip Your Wig
Carcass – Heartwork
Lair of the Minotaur – The Ultimate Destroyer
Fugazi – The Argument
Elliott Brood – Mountain Meadows
She Wolves – S/T
Melvins – Nude With Boots
Antelope – Reflector