The good time image of New Orleans has been tarnished by what was the worst natural disaster in American history, Hurricane Katrina. FEMA and the Bush Administration sat back as many of mostly impoverished residents of the city drowned or suffered a slow death because of complete lack of compassion and failure to act. As compassionate as the Christians who make up Bush’s cronies claim to be, the bottom line is that they don’t give a fuck about people who are poor, black, and dying. That’s right, I said it! What the fuck are you going to do about it?!
But before all that, New Orleans was the closest thing that America had to a truly liberated and party town. It even puts Las Vegas to shame. I’ll party in a city any day where the funeral processions are led by jazz musicians strutting down the street in a festive mood. Aside from all the gumbo, spicy food, and jazz heritage, New Orleans also had a dark mysticism about it, along with lots of folklore and superstitions that many of the people lived by. It served as a backdrop in many of Anne Rice’s novels and you don’t have to be a sportswriter to know that a great deal of the city is convinced that their football team has fared horribly all these years because the Superdome was built atop an old cemetery.
On their second release, Punches, The Big Easy’s World Leader Pretend has taken all of those creepy elements from the city and weaves them into a world of foggy alt musings and vibrant iciness. “Bang Theory” shows singer Keith Ferguson growling very lowly on and off alongside Parker Hutchinson’s fluttery keyboard licks as he sounds like Richard Ashcroft breathing for dear life. The rhythms of “The Driving Rain” and “Your Tax Dollars at Work” are curling and hypnotic.
WLP even likes to bust out the sleigh bells throughout the album. The creepy uber-jazz tones of “A Small Thought” rest like the fog on the bayou on a creepy night with some snapping and an end result along the lines of Coldplay-meets-Dr. John. “The Masses” comes in again with the sleigh bells and some stringy riffs, yet apt enough for an old timey French Quarter brothel where the opium smoke is wafting in the air. And it’s all set to a Britpop howl.
World Leader Pretend may have taken their name off of a track from R.E.M.’s album Green, but they still sing like it’s the end of the world as they know it and still feel and play finer than Michael Stipe or his bulbous skull ever was when he was singing the track of the same name.
Innaway – Innaway
The Walkmen – Everyone who Pretended to Like Me is Gone
The Cooper Temple Clause – Kick up the Fire, And Let the Flames Break Loose