Soundwaves: Budding Boden transcends Celtic
A & M
Brigid Boden's self-titled debut opens with "Must Go On," the New York songstress' answer to Ashley MacIssac's "Sleepy Maggie." And Boden's album cover carries an endorsement from MacIssac himself. But don't let these common bonds fool you. Boden isn't really about MacIssac's upbeat Celtic sound. She is about much, much more.
Like the top-40 dance hall beats that purvey "Fairest," the trip-hop of "Sleeping Beauty" and the break-beat feel of "Spirits Never Part."
Nearly each track on Brigid Boden melds a different rhythmic style with traditional Celtic sounds the hyper-active fiddle and Boden's own pristine Gaelic voice.
It is a voice that sings of love; losing it, finding it and longing for it. In "Truce" Boden whispers of a forbidden love: "Even though I know it's wrong/ My feelings deep, my feeling so strong." In the more traditional Celtic song "Ask No Questions," Boden sings of a devoted soul mate, while in the reggae-driven "One Glimpse of You" she tells of the struggle of getting over a failed relationship.
"I tell myself the feeling's gone/ I make believe I'm getting strong," she sings. "One glimpse of you and now I long."
Boden's lyric writing is admittedly not very strong. A spiritual presence on "How I Cry" and the aforementioned "Truce" is the only deviation Boden takes from her love-inspired approach to songwriting. And Boden's lyrics themselves are nary worthy of poetry status.
But the music that supports them carries this album along regardless. From Celtic to rock, hip hop to techno and reggae to pop, Boden and her cast of supporting musicians weave a web of musical mayhem. And as Hans Christian Anderson said, "Where words fail, music speaks."
A good bet is Arista just figured out quirky power pop brings suburban indie kids into record stores. And Nerf Herder fits the bill, toting its instruments below its belts, singing about high school-esque infatuations to distorted power chords. The only difference between Nerf Herder and other three-piece bands is this band's love for golf.
The beloved recreational activity extends into the band's written material during the song "Golfshirt." In fairness though, the song deviates from the 'green turf' with references to Geddy Lee's feathered hair.
References to Diamond David Lee Roth's loss of hair is quite disturbing during the track "Van Halen." Nonetheless, Nerf Herder deals with the sad loss of Roth to Sammy Hagar. Nerf Herder had obviously finished recording its debut album before Van Halen agreed to take on the former lead singer of Extreme.
But what's extreme about writing a song about a girl with a nose ring? It seems like fair fluffy power pop territory to travel within.
The fluff, however, dissipates during the last song, "I only eat Candy," with powerful statements like, "I don't kill/ And I don't murder/ Or manufacture atomic weapons/ And I don't eat meat/ And I don't eat vegetables/ No, no, no/ Cuz I only eat candy."
Fair enough. If listeners are willing to buy fizz candies that give a three-second sensation, then Arista will surely package Nerf Herder in glossy foil wraps.