Two Guys! No, not the department store from the 1960s, and not The White Stripes or Black Keys either. I’m talkin’ about two Canadian guys, Brian King on guitar and vocals and David Prowse on drums, who brought a firestorm of fury onto these shores with one of the best albums all year, their aptly titled second full-length record “Celebration Rock.” Having seen these guys in action, I’m here to tell you that once they leave the stage, they leave a cadre of spent bodies with bleeding ears in their wake. And that’s a good thing, if your thing is high-powered, adrenaline producing walls of sound (think Husker Du) with the kind of chant-along hooks that haven’t been heard since U2 last fired up stadiums around the world. In fact, this clip from last summer’s Pitchfork Music Festival is the show I saw, and you can see my son and I in the very front of that throng of insanity. (We were on the right side facing the stage.) And if this clip doesn’t convince you that Japandroids are perhaps the most exciting group to come down the pike in a long, long time, then what you have to “Husker Du” is go see these guys next time they bring their two-man wrecking crew to your neighborhood.
Looking back at the 2012 Pitchfork Music Festival in Chicago, it was full of outstanding new music mostly performed by artists I had never heard of. Clearly, that is what makes Pitchfork one of the coolest festivals on the planet. One of the standouts was Canada’s Japandroids, a Husker Du-ish duo consisting of Brian King on guitar and David Prowse on drums who steamrollered all over the crowd with their brand of celebratory rock. At the time, their latest record was “Celebration Rock” and it is most definitely one of the best records to come out so far that year. Other highlights from today included another Canadian duo known as Purity Ring who sounded like a chilled out Bjork surrounded by electronic dubstep beats, New Jersey’s Clams Casino, a producer of hip-hop mixtapes who’s hypnotic beats made for some knotty instrumentals and the psychedelic pop of Olivia Tremor Control who released several records in the early 1990s only to reunite a decade later. They are said to be releasing some new music in the future. The day started with Outer Minds whose sound reminded me of 1966 era organ-swirled Grateful Dead. Stay tuned for day-two highlights tomorrow.