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Friend & Foe

4.4 out of 5 stars 37 customer reviews

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Audio CD, January 23, 2007
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

This fractured post-punk, post-hip-hop, post-pop album is the much-anticipated follow-up to their debut, "I Am The Fun Blame Monster".

Amazon.com

On their third album, Portland, Oregon's Menomena (remember Sesame Street and the Piero Umaliani song, "Mah Na Mah Na"?) sound like Spoon on the brink of outer space with Mercury Rev riding in their rocketship. They write collectively, using software they scripted to assemble songs from their own click-tracks and melody snippets--and then re-learn as new, full-bodied entities. The cumulative effect is often collage-like, with piano and scratchy guitar and drums (and an occasional saxophone) dropping in and out as songs clamber forward, fueled by manic creative immediacy. They know how to throw down, too, thick guitars powering "The Pelican" but never overpowering the unlikely melodicism and irresistible lyricism of a fragile beauty like "Rotten Hell." --Andrew Bartlett
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (January 23, 2007)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Barsuk
  • ASIN: B000LP6KKS
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #159,137 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By G. Versch on January 29, 2007
Format: Audio CD
I've dabbled with audio mixing software a bit - everything has blended and congealed from simple drum-machine programs and audio mixing software to something between the two. Programs where you can create beats, mix in found and recorded sounds, compose melodies using sampled audio waves controlled by virtual synthesizers represented by virtual keyboards and virtual buttons on virtual grids to create virtual symphonies. When playing around with wonderous software, and when listening to others's music, I often notice two common problems: 1) everything I hear sounds like it could have been mixed on a 16-bit Super Nintendo, and 2) it is too easy to get into a 'drag and drop' frame of mind, creating slightly disjointed pieces lacking the unity and cohesive nature of an actually practiced and performed song.

This album has gotten a lot of hype in the last two weeks or so. Also, it's tough to find a review of Menomena that doesn't include a description of how the music is created - the band uses mixing software to compose songs, then learns those songs on instruments before recording them. This description seems like a gimmick, and at first I thought it was lazy criticism, as the discussion of the creation of music can easily distract from the music itself.

But that's it; that's really the best way to describe the feel of this album. The drumbeats are actually performed and recorded, not mixed on a beat machine. But they are often influenced by that skippy, counter-intuitive nature of techno beats. Layered melodies and counter-melodies come across as their own units, adding layers but not often playing or reacting off of each other like well-recorded live music.
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Format: Audio CD
"Friend or Foe", the latest offering from the band Menomena is a glorious trip from start to finish. Not a weak track on here as I'm sure you'll have a different favorite from week to week. "Air Aid", "Rotten Hell", "Evil Bee", "Boyscout'n", "Ghostship", "Running", "Wet & Rusting" & "West" are all favorites. You can easily hear the effect of influences like TV on the Radio, Radiohead, & Home. They really took their time with this album and it shows, as these are highly evolved songs. If you're a fan of straight up verse chorus verse song structures then you may want to look elsewhere as these songs constantly keep you guessing with change of pace, instrumentation and overall structure. You'll hear saxophones, piano, and even whistling along with traditional instruments in the span of the 12 tracks & 48 minutes that end up going down extra smooth.

If you're a fan of cd packaging then this will surely float your boat beyond what you hear on the disc. I won't even attempt to explain it in detail but suffice it to say the sleeve includes die-cuts & intricate artwork. If you're considering just getting the mp3's of this album, you really need to reconsider for the packaging. It's still early, but I'm already sure this album will end up in my top 3 at the end of the year.

Please get this album, as I'm sure if this description interests you, you'll fall in love with this album like I did.

We also need to continue to encourage some of the lesser known great artists out there by purchasing their music and passing the word.

Happy listening!
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Format: Vinyl Verified Purchase
i bought this after my computer abandoned me. I have no regrets it arrived promptly in perfect condition. The cover had a rotating pinwheel behind it, that changes the monsters eyes, and where the cd cover said 'menomena' it says whichever song you prefer, it'll probably be 'wet and rusting' and instead of the sphere he's holding with a heart it has the track number for that song, no it's not listed but it's a vinyl so it's kind of unneccessary regardless. it comes with the 1 one, i don't know how they managed to do it but they did, timing perfect and all. on one side it says friend the other foe. :D
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Format: Audio CD
Why? Because the album cover does a far better job at hinting at the innovation, whimsy, experimentation, and sheer quality than I possible could manage. The same factors push this album well past the average indie rock album towards being an early contender for album of the year. For those that need a comparison to other bands, think a far looser TV on the Radio; however, that hardly does justice to what this band has managed to do here.

What really sticks out about the album is that it's jarring tempo changes and dense musical interludes seem as they should present the initial listener with a Fiery Furnaces-esque challenging presentation and yet somehow it evades any sort of learning curve. The songs work instantly but also grow with each listen. On the fifteenth time through a song you will hear some subtle guitar rift on what had already been your favorite song on the album.

If it sounds like I'm gushing about this record it is simply because it is one of those few albums that manages to blow me away listen after listen. I really cannot do this album justice with some pithy lines about "great indie rock" that will not be conveyed more meaningfully by experiencing the songs with your own ears. A magnificent and refreshing triumph in pop rock.
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