Review Summary: Capgun Coup's debut, released by Bright Eyes' label, is too varied and too absent-minded a compilation of indie goodness.
For a band that I had never heard of before last week, Capgun Coup is impossibly nostalgic. Their name itself recalls memories from the [not so distant] past, when my friends and I would war with recently purchased toy guns outside of the elementary school. I can say with confidence that our primitive battles never quite reached the level of staging a coup, however. Typically, we’d drop a ten dollar bill or so on guns, ammunition rounds, and cheap candy, then cross the street to the school’s playground and go wild. This was essentially a perfect Saturday afternoon. Still, Capgun Coup’s nostalgic value runs much deeper than something as cosmetic and forgettable as a band name.
Capgun’s sound betrays influences to dozens of bands that I frequently listen to, most of which come from the Matador and Saddle Creek record labels. The fact that they are signed to Team Love, Saddle Creek big man Conor Oberst’s label, and hail from Omaha only increases ties to the latter. The songs on Brought to You By Nebraskafish
, the band’s 2007 debut, seem to hark on the lo-fi laze and absent-mindedness of Pavement, the folkiness of early Bright Eyes and the Indie/Punk brilliance of Cursive, sometimes all in the same song (case in point, Oh My, Mod
). Abstract samples and abrupt changes are prevalent all over Nebraskafish, songs jump from one style to another, or are rudely interrupted by samples of politicians and/or bad jokes (My Tears Cure Cancer’s
“so a baby seal walks into a club…” line comes to mind). Most songs that extend far past the 3-minute mark feature some strange addition or change. Bobby Chops and the Do-Gooders
at 7 minutes is essentially two completely different songs housed under one title. A Liar in Texas in a Greenroom in Memphis
at least manages to retain one style throughout. It’s also a definite highlight, though these two things are hardly related. It’s the Midwestern Punk drive, the mellow keyboard lines, and the Elephant 6-esque bedroom Pop influence, combined here so superbly, that make the song excellent. This combination is welcomed again and the frenzied Huck Fin
, Nebraskafish’s first single.
Lyrically, Coup focus on the kind of topics you’d expect from a younger band signed to Bright Eyes’ label: primarily sex, relationships and word play, occasionally politics ( Uh Huh
is the most blatant example) and partying. Time
and Adorable Doorsteps
seem to be the right songs to include as an example here. The former is an organ-tinted folk number that owes more of a debt to Bright Eyes than anything else on Nebraskafish and features lines about liquor cabinets, girls crying and projects put off. It’s as touching as any of Conor Oberst’s best and is evidence if anything, of Capgun Coup’s ability to write great songs, instead of messing around with samples and the like. The latter of the aforementioned two chronicles a guy who is looking to get with “that whorish little girl next door”. He doesn’t care if he’s “her 31st guy”, he just wants to “get a piece of that pie before he dies”. The lyrics may not have a whole lot of depth but then, few Pop songs do. And Adorable Doorsteps is certainly a Pop song: it’s chock full of multipart harmonies, cutesy piano and bouncy rhythms. At least, until the end, where everything predictably cuts out and the song turns to a minimalist outro that has little to do with Elvis Costello or whoever else I should be relating the music on Doorsteps to.
Perhaps Brought to You by Nebraskafish’s eclectic-ness is a result of Capgun Coup trying way too hard, or maybe its the result of kids who’ve grown up with unlimited access to Indie Rock greats via file-sharing (one Pitchforkmedia review seems to agree here) but whatever the case, the album listens like a mixtape made by some lonely Midwestern teenagers and, in many ways, it probably is.