The Freshmen Battle Royal – You Pick The Video 03.16.09

  by slorocco.

Ezra Furman and the Harpoons is comprised of the aforementioned lead singer/guitar player Furman along with bassist Job Mukkada and drummer Adam Abrutyn. After gaining critical acclaim for their first album Banging Down the Doors, the boys are back with sophomore debut Inside the Human Body to deliver more intricate indie tunes. B. Reith hails from Nashville, Tennessee but make no mistake he does not fall into the easily assumed country category. This hip-hop artist is on a quest to make his name known. Just make sure you get it right. Nickel Eye is the side project of The Strokes’ bassist Nikolai Fraiture. (That fourth album is never going to happen, is it? Lindsay hangs head and cries.) He is joined by Joel Cadbury on steel guitar, Jamie McDonald on guitar, and Brett Shaw on drums. DJ Revolution has been holding his own on The Wake-Up Show (hi Sway!) for over eight years now. As if that’s not enough, he debuted his LP King of the Decks this past fall to bring us more of stellar beats and show off his fast fingers. If anyone underestimates Anarbor’s skills, just take note that the foursome were still in high school when being signed to Hopeless Records late last year. With the very recent release of their EP Free Your Mind these young charmers are set to take their charms on tour.

Anarbor B. Reith DJ Revolution Ezra Furman & the Harpoons Nickel Eye

Anarbor

A pretty standard kinda pop-punk song. Nothing bad about it but nothing remarkable either. It’s catchy enough to win over plenty of fans, but in this week’s crop of Freshman it’s just not cutting it for me. Aside from the floating knife effect, I didn’t really see anything that made this video stand-out. The band is pretty gosh darn cute though. Lead singer Slade (such a very lead-singerish name isn’t it?) has a little bit of a Billy Crudup thing going on. Anyone else see it?

 

B. Reith

Did I just hear this guy try and compare himself to Ashton Kutcher and Jason Priestley in the same song? Oh my. I… uuuhhh. I don’t even know what to do with this right now. I suppose it’s one thing to try and be humble while rapping about the way you’re trying to make it in this business. It’s entirely another to say you want to be the “white Kayne West.” Then you’re just opening the door for a world of criticism in my opinion. This is not a genre where I want to hear about a lot of fear. On one hand, I can appreciate how B. Reith is attempting to be honest about the hurdles he has to overcome. But the lyrics are too much of a confused medley of bragging and worrisome venting for it to really catch on.

 

DJ Revolution

Alright so I’ll be the first to admit I know next to nothing when it comes to Dj-ing but it seems like anyone who owns a Mac can call themselves a DJ these days. Right? That being said… I. LOVE. THIS. I am also really enjoying the set-up of the video, Revolution battling against a machine, interspersed with Kbimean’s wordplay presenting the DJ as half man and machine. Very clever and a smart way to make what is a fairly simple video more intricate. But I will note that its simplicity is also a saving grace. The lack of frills, flash, or flair is what make it so effective. They’re not necessary, all Revolution needs to do is stand in front of his tables and do what he does to drive a point home. Again, I’m not very schooled in the ways of the DJ but I was pretty impressed.

 

Ezra Furman & the Harpoons

On first listen, this song was a little rough for me. There are so many syllables crammed in between the beats that it makes you kind of dizzy. Wanted to say, “Whoa, dude. Calm down. You, valium. Think about it.” Plus Furman’s vocals have a tangy whine to them that can be grating to the eardrums. But after a couple of views it grew on me. The video makes it apparent that the group is being incredibly tongue and cheek. The smirky smiles at the camera combined with the fact that he never does ACTUALLY remove the sunglasses demonstrates an awareness that the whole effect is slightly ridiculous. And I enjoy the fact that the lyrics are grappling with serious issues of love and personal insecurity while at the same time eyes are rolling as if to say, “I know, right? Why are you listening to us about this stuff?” It’s an interesting dichotomy and the way the 22 year old singer is able to be unfettered about his songwriting is really drawing me in. The video also made me want to buy a pair of Wayfarers even though that trend is like at least two years old by now.

 

Nickel Eye

There is no doubt I was already going to be partial to this band because of Fraiture’s awesomely amazing bass skills and his wickedly cool “I could really give a f***” attitude. I’ve already been listening to this album for several months now and while I don’t really agree with “Brandy of the Damned” as first choice for a single, I was impressed with the video’s start. (Baz Luhrman’s Romeo + Juliet anyone?) And it really manages to show off Fraiture’s image to best advantage. The flat monotone quality of his voice is mesmerizing in the best possible way (i.e. mellow) and I have always been a sucker for steel guitar and folk-inspired tunes. If you really want to fall in love with Nickel Eye I suggest listening to “Where the Cold Wind Blows.” Beautiful song and that piano in the background? No worries, that’s just Regina Spektor.

 

This week it’s a tough call for me. My first instinct is to say DJ Revolution but honestly my musical taste would steer me towards Ezra and the Harpoons as well as Nickel Eye. They would be the groups you’d find kicking around on my iPod. So I think I’ll take a turn this week and give my pick to DJ Revolution. The fact that he’s pushing me out of my comfort zone and keeps me intrigues earns him a deserved win. Alright kids, you know what to do now. Hit me up in the comments section, tell me what you think. AND VOTE.

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