If Vampire Weekend sound like a bunch of private school kids who lace their tales of life on campus with the exotic sounds of their worldwide travels then Abe Vigoda are their less fortunate counterparts from the state school downtown who too embarked on journeys to far off lands but decided to quit school and stay there. While there they became ensconced in the local cultures and were in turn shielded from any notion of cool and their musical need to make loud noises was bathed in age-old, sun-baked traditions, this being the result.
Since their debut Kid City, Abe Vigoda have forged their own route to musical notoriety and in the process have stumbled haphazardly across what can only be described as 'tropical punk.' Hailing from L.A. Abe Vigoda are a four piece that vacate the emerging scene that surrounds the Smell club and along with contemporaries like Mika Miko and No Age are causing quite a stir with their complete musical abandon that comes at you like a black hole that, having sucked in so many musical genres is now spewing them all out the back end in a form so unrecognisable it's thrilling.
Kid City was this band's warning shot, emerging from their camp with abrasion and venom, and having got everyone's attention has paved the way for Skeleton. Skeleton is certainly less abrasive and as a result gives room to the myriad of elements that make up their sound. Having said that it still packs a punch and though the teeth have been filed down slightly it still aims to dominate completely. From the opening moments of Dead City/Waste Wilderness there is little let up as each song is jettisoned with reckless ease. Guitarists Michael Vidal and Juan Velazquez fire off punk ditties that manage to embody their surroundings of either the steel drum of the Caribbean or the gentle melodies of South America. The mix of the hard punk sound with the warmth of these two distant elements is instantly jarring but electrifying none the less. Neither sits well together and with the under production of Vidal's muffled and inaudible vocals this should, in a sane world, be pure noise. But thank God this world is anything but sane.
Skeleton is an album very much unaware of its surroundings in musical terms but all too aware in creative and geographical terms. Unlike with their debut, Abe Vigoda have paced this album perfectly and allowed just enough space to infiltrate their 'blanket' pace to keep the listener interested. Kid City came at us like a record with so much to say and not enough time but Skeleton has more maturity but still manages to retain the sketch-book like spontaneity of their original sound. In a year where Vampire Weekend's debut and No Age's Nouns have unexpectedly delighted my hungry ears it seems all too perfect that Skeleton should fall between the two. The record rolls along like a ball of knotted shoe laces which makes it very difficult to pull out and separate individual elements - but if you stop trying and just appreciate the knot as a whole you'll see it's a pretty amazing thing.