Friday, November 15, 2013

Musicommendation: Laika & the Cosmonauts

at 4:30 PM
If you're playing XCOM: Enemy Within this week (and who isn't (me for one - haven't had time)), I'm sure you're desperate for some great future-surf to replace the game's nearly non-existent ("scary") soundtrack. For the original game I found Man or Astro-Man? to be the perfect complement, with their array of pumping guitar riffs, eerie electronic effects, cheesy B-movie quips, and MST3K theme songs. Hanging around the same tree farm as MOAM one might find Finlanders Laika & the Cosmonauts, who I'm here to tell you about today.

Now I know what you're saying to yourself. "Wait on a second - Finland? Isn't that the world's musical toilet? The country where they listen to this kind of music?" (that band I linked is Norwegian, but apparently you're a racist who thinks all Scandinavians are the same - a fair enough conflation). But this ain't no cringe-inducing "folk-metal" dreck, nor is it "viking-metal" human waste, nor even "pagan-war-funeral-metal" I'm not even making these terms up. Laika & her Cosmonautic Buddies are a group of very small instrumental surf rockers who incorporate some sweet elements of awesomeness into their music. Honestly I'm not going to describe it. I'm no master of the musical vernacular and you can listen to a song in the same time as you can read a heavily-cribbed-from-AllMusic paragraph. 


My biggest problem with a lot of older surf rock like Dick Dale and the Ventures is that it's like a boring single guitar line that doesn't feel like a song. Thus '80s/'90s covers of surf classics which fill out the mix with multiple leads and neato-FX tend to be light-years more enjoyable than the originals. Luckily Laika is on par with their latter-day contemporaries - their songs are deep, layered, and full-bodied, like a voluminous head of hair using Head & Shoulders, now with conditioning action.

I realize the other #1 ranked shortcoming of surf rock is its tendency toward repetition, but with covers like Laika's of the Pygmies' "Don't Monkey with Tarzan", who could ask for more? 


Anyway, the "unoriginal genre" complaint is a "labels are stupid" problem, not a problem with the music itself. It's like when Greg L. told me Sin & Punishment couldn't be an arcade third-person shooter because it's "too clever". That's an inherent bias against the label, the same as when the Dead Kennedys or Secret Chiefs 3 are excluded from surf rock because they're "too unique". So are the Beatles not pop because they're "too crappy"? Bob Dylan not folk because he's "too revolutionary"? I think people forget that genres are adjectives that lend partial description to artists and works, not boxes that fully contain them. Some genres are more precise than others - obviously "surf rock" has a more specific meaning than "blues" and thus boxes in less bands. That doesn't mean it's limiting, it just means there's plenty of room to build music upon the basis of surf rock. 

Good tangent. Anyway - I highly demand you grab at least Surfs You Right from your local music repositorium. It surfs you write!!!!!!!! If you like guitars, rock, music, things to listen to, sound, or "Sloop John B", Laika & the Cosmonauts is indeed the band for you!

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