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Deerhoof: The Runners Four

Deerhoof - The Runners Four

Written by: Corey Tate

Whew. The kids are alright.

The Runners Four is one of those albums that shoots in a bunch of new directions and becomes famous for falling short of what it aimed for. The great part is that the band was so ambitious in its aim that where they ended up turns out to be a great set of songs.

I always wonder if Deerhoof knows how close they come to being a great band. The bands that reach for great things but fall short are always loved more than those who reach for greatness and find it. The near misses — the failures in an attempt at greatness — are always the most revered of albums. They're good because of their successes living right next to their failures, in such an open and forward offering of the band's abilty that the open nakedness is what becomes interesting, the uncompromised offering. Thats what The Runners Four is.

The band has reached in so many new directions its incredible. They've expanded their sound and become even more experimental than before. These guys are so close to turning into the Beatles of the indie rock 2000's that it's dizzying.

There's a lot of music here and it goes off in many directions. The band is trying fast stuff, rocking stuff, experimental stuff, slow stuff.

I'm going to deal with the voice thing once and leave it behind - the power puff girl voice with its cute girlishness seems at times to detract from the music. I know it's a big part of the Deerhoof history, but growth is a good thing. The voice seems to represent parts of the bands history that the band is outgrowing musically. Some tracks feature Satomi singing in a different, more mature voice, and that seems much more in synch with where the band is going.

And with that being said - the band is cranking out some great music these days. I can't believe how it sounds sometimes, as the band keeps threatening to kick the whole song over the top, or creates a song that meanders through noisy experimentalism only to bring it back to more conventional measures. You never know what the next note is going to bring when you listen the first time through.

I find myself rocking back and forth as I drive in my car, pounding out the drum beat on my lap while other people in traffic look at me like some sort freak. If they were hearing what I was hearing, they would understand why. There's a sense of energy that keeps surging up here and coming very close to going over the threshold — and the band seems to know how to take a step or two over the line but then bring it back — always making the listener want and beg for more. No gluttony for this band - only leaving the listener asking for more.

Siriustar is this jammy little thing that starts out as a sly little workout of crispy bass with sparse guitar offerings. By the time the chorus hits you're being blown away with a super-explosive locomotive of energy. It's noisy, energetic, and threatens to go out of control before the momentum cuts back and leaves you waiting for more. By the time the chorus comes back in the end it fully delivers on its promise.

Wrong Time Capsule sounds like 3 minutes of indie rock bliss, with virtuouso guitar riffs and tight rythyms. There's even a guitar solo. It's delivered in a laid-back, straight-forward style, so confident in it's approach that it demands your attention all the way through. And then of course when it's over, the next thing you'll want to do is play it again. And again.

Rrrrrrright starts out as a quick eclectic shake out. It stops and you can hear the studio engineer talking to someone in the band. And then it launches into the most explosive noise with feverent intensity — laid over the quick beat and bass line — you would swear you're lost in some rocked out version of Sonic Youth's Dirty. Sudddenly everything makes sense. The noise, the energy - it's all like that Memorex ad from the eighties with that guy in the chair who turns the stereo on with the remote — and the sound that comes out of the speakers is like wind blowing past him.

This band knows exactly what it's doing.

RATING: ***** 5 out of 5 stars


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Release Date:
October 11th, 2005

Recording Label:
Kill Rock Stars

Deerhoof: The Runners Four Track List:
01 Chatterboxes
02 Twin Killers
03 Running Thoughts
04 Vivid Cheek Love Song
05 O'Malley, Former Underdog
06 Odyssey
07 Wrong Time Capsule
08 Spirit Ditties of No Tone
09 Scream Team
10 You Can See
11 Midnight Bicycle Mystery
12 After Me the Deluge
13 Siriustar
14 Lemon & Little Lemon
15 Lightening Rod, Run
16 Bone-Dry
17 News from a Bird
18 Spy on You
19 You're Our Two
20 RRRRRRRight


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