Every so often a rock record comes along that makes me sit up
straighter, tap my foot a little harder, and it becomes a...Celebration.
This offering gets my vote for sleeper hit of 2005. Where to start?
Well first, the thing that struck me was the vocal gymnastics
of lead singer Katrina Ford (formerly of the Jaks and Love Life).
If you're wondering what happened to the female vocal stylings
of Vivian Goldman, Slits, Neneh Cherry circa Rip Rig & Panic,
and even Shocking Blue, this is where it's at. You'll also hear
touchstones like Grace Slick, the Swans' Jarboe, Rosie Cuckston
of Pram, and even a goth version of Josephine Foster with the
lungs of a possessed cabaret singer.
Now on to the music: From the pounding opener, "War,"
the roof gets torn off (and stays off) over the next ten songs.
By the third track, I started to wonder what it was about the
sound, production techniques, and grooves that had gotten me all
excited. The credits revealed the obvious: the man sitting behind
the engineering console (as well as guitar and synth) is David
Andrew Sitek--the common link between Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs and TV
on the Radio. If you were to put these two energetic, emotional,
and enthusiastic groups together you'll get close to the sound
at hand. A swirling mix of keys, drums, percussion and guitar,
the lyrics interweave political overtones with elements of love
and create a whirlpool of emotion, seduction and power that matches
Also on board are TV on the Radio's Tunde, Kyp, and Jaleel handling
some supporting vocals, as well as Martin Pena and Stewart Bogie,
part of Antibalas' tasty horn section. But even with all the guests,
Celebration is essentially the product of mastermind Sean Antanaitis,
who handles the organ, piano, accordion, Theremin, guitars, guitorgan(?),
and percussion, and is assisted by drummer/percussionist David
Bergander. It's not everyday that I'm blow away by a rock record
(yeah I said it again). Dark, moody, and, above all, soulful,
if TVOTR rocked your world this may be the next step. One of my
top tens of the year, no doubt. [DG]