EP Review – Almost Xiu Xiu, Almost Deerhoof
As a rabid Xiu Xiu fan (but not quite a shwee) and knowing little about Deerhoof, I was intrigued when I heard Almost Xiu Xiu, Almost Deerhoof. According to the Xiu Xiu site, the concept behind the 7” was that Xiu Xiu would sing a Deerhoof song and Deerhoof would retaliate and do a Xiu Xiu song. There has been an incubating desire within me for Xiu Xiu to make something–not more interesting, Jamie Stewart is interesting enough–but something that is produced differently, uses different instrumentation, vocals, anything new to rinse off the aged and well trodden experience that is my relationship with Xiu Xiu. “Mother” on Former Ghosts’ Fleurs was a good start and a fantastic example of Stewart revitalized. Actually, you can barely tell that “Mother” has anything to do with Xiu Xiu which might be why I took such a liking to it. But songs on Fleurs with Stewart featured so prominently are few and Almost Xiu Xiu, Almost Deerhoof, is similarly a tease when it comes to unfolding a novel Stewart experience.
On the Xiu Xiu side Stewart’s vocals are at the forefront only briefly. In “Almost Xiu Xiu, Almost Deerhoof,” Stewart barks at us that play time is over and proceeds to sing a single verse about a lover’s control and a six shooter aimed at the heart. The lover turns out to be an officer of the law when the story is elaborated in the rest of “Almost Xiu Xiu, Almost Deerhoof” by three more vocalists including a spoken interlude by Deerhoof’s Satomi Matsuzaki and lastly a woeful serenade by Dead Science vocalist Sam Mickens.
The Deerhoof retaliation is rhythmic and noisy, maybe more what I would have expected the Xiu Xiu side to sound like. Though there is no mistaking Saunier’s skillful manipulation of drums and percussion instruments. He also does the vocals on this song which is unusual for the Deerhoof I have been accustomed to. Saunier sings really well, solidifying the 7” as veteran singer’s playground.