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Ears & Fingers 9/5/13

by Jason Leger

Franz Ferdinand – ‘Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action’
Back in 2004, the world felt new and full of possibility for myself and for a young dance rock band from the UK named Franz Ferdinand. We had youth on our side and a sunny disposition to greet the world with, and for the most part, the world responded in kind. That was nearly 10 years ago and much akin to most everyone else in the world I have changed considerably. I have grown and been stretched by encounters and experiences, both good and bad. Franz Ferdinand on the other hand, seem to be frozen in time, stuck in a specific place trying to relive a specific point, but never quite getting it right in the same way. With the release of their fourth full length, “Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action,” the band seems to have put out the same album for the fourth time in a row. I applaud them for the effort, and with their urgency and energy, they are definitely trying—it just isn’t going anywhere. “Right Thoughts” is full of the dance hooks, kitschy lyrical innuendo, and polished grandstanding that brought Franz Ferdinand into the limelight in the first place. I would be remiss if I were to tell you that it isn’t catchy. It is very catchy, but it was catchy the first time I heard it in 2004, and then again in 2005, and then again in 2009. They have failed to recapture the magic that prevailed with brilliantly riffed hit “Take Me Out,” or even lesser known single “Do You Want To.” I don’t hate the band by any means, all I’m asking for is something to keep my attention. Meet me halfway guys, or you will join Aerosmith and Metallica on my list of bands who I wish would stop putting out music and just tour on their catalog because they’re ruining themselves. “Same Thoughts, Same Words, Same Action”…I mean, “Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action” is out now via Domino Records.

Okkervil River – ‘The Silver Gymnasium’
“Show me my best memory, it’s probably super crappy. Nine years down in Texas with sluts of both sexes, liars, lumps, and drug addicts, and drunks!” I have absolutely zero qualms with saying that Okkervil River are one of the best bands to come from the indie rock boom of the first decade of the 21st Century. The band are able to maintain this reputation for several reasons, not the least of which being their work ethic, consistency, and idealism toward writing very pure, simple, catchy pop rock. From 2002 to 2011, the band released six full-length albums, along with a slew of studio EPs, live EPs, singles and collaboration contributions. Just last week, the band added to this impressive amount of output by releasing their seventh full-length album, “The Silver Gymnasium.” The album is homage to lead singer/songwriter Will Sheff’s hometown of Meriden, N.H., a small place that shaped Sheff into the great storyteller he is today. It was a “use your imagination or be bored to death” situation. The outcome has been good to him, and proximally good to us. The album is replete with glossy, catchy tracks with lyrics that bounce between heavy and light, much akin to most of Okkervil’s catalog. Highlights include the somber “Lido Pier Suicide Car,” grooved-laden “Pink Slips,” and the piano driven lead single “It Was My Season.” This album also has a few additional online gems that have been used to build up anticipation. On NPR’s All Songs Considered site, you can peruse a virtual map of the town which inspired “The Silver Gymnasium,” and on the band’s website, you can play as a young Will Sheff in a RPG based on the album. These serve as additional perks to an album that is certain to be a favorite for Fall 2013. “The Silver Gymnasium” is out now via ATO Records, and be sure to catch Okkervil River with Torres at the Alabama Music Box in Mobile on September 19.