10.07.2008

Music Review: Deerhoof's Offend Maggie

by Vincent Lee

The band Deerhoof can be seen as rather odd on a number of levels. First off, their name alone is rather bizarre. Additionally, the composition of the band is unique as well. They started off as a duo, but over several albums have developed into a full band with two guitars and a bassist. Although, this seems standard at first glance, the lead singer is what makes the group seem different. Satomi Matsuzaki, a short Japanese woman, handles the majority of the vocals in her rather unique voice. On their seventh album release Offend Maggie (released today, Oct. 7 in its CD-version, the album has been available electronically for the past week), the unusual band gives another abstract effort.

On the opening song, “The Tears and Music of Love” it is apparent Deerhoof wants to make a statement instrumentally: an amazing riff that sets a great tone for the song. Then, at the twenty four second mark, the vocals hit. Amidst the great jamming, random talking and indistinguishable words appear. The song lasts for roughly four minutes alternating a powerful guitar with the bizarre and confusing vocals of Matsuzaki. This formula will go on to be the archetype for the entire album.

This is not to say Offend Maggie is 14 songs of the same riffs or even style of music in two and three minute spurts. Rather, Offend Maggie is fourteen songs of great guitar and drums, layered with bizarre singing. The great diversity of musical style and tone is well done throughout the album. The riffs and jams make it seem like something great is going to come, but it more often than not ends with more completely random spoken word or what passes as singing. A classic case of this is on the song “Basket Ball Get Your Groove Back.” For two minutes and thirty-five seconds Matsuzaki repeats the words “B-Ball” and “Rebound.” It is reminiscent of another Deerhoof song from Apple O’ “Panda Panda Panda,” where the title of the song is repeated over and over.

The result of this is troubling. The instrumentals are absolutely terrific, but they lead nowhere. Those who are looking for something profound lyrically should not touch Offend Maggie, or anything by Deerhoof for that matter. On the other hand, many will likely enjoy Offend Maggie for a variety of reasons. Some may in fact be delighted by the extremely random vocals and singing style of Matsuzaki. For others though it may be too much. Depending on your threshold for unique music you may love or hate Offend Maggie. But there's likely no mid-ground. Current Deerhoof fans will most likely soak up this album; those new to the band should be wary and listen to a few songs before jumping in.

(The promotional photo of Deerhoof is from Kill Rock Stars Records. Deerhoof will continue its world tour with a performance tonight, Oct. 7 in Seattle, WA. To see Deerhoof 's video for "Fresh Born" from Offend Maggie, please check below.)











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