Wednesday, September 2nd, 2009

Dan Deacon – Paddling Ghost

Sheeeeeee-it? Not exactly…


Al Shipley: I remember seeing Deacon in a club 3 or 4 years ago when he was just another Baltimore weirdo, and despite his success since then, it’s still odd to try to experience his music in a ‘singles’ context. Like a lot of his tracks, this one has some killer instrumental bits and vocals that I could really do without, so it’s all downhill from the intro.

Michaelangelo Matos: As ecstatic-bro as Animal Collective, complete with overdubbed vocal group featuring Daffy Duck soundalike, but for some reason on its own it leaves me far colder than Bromst does as an album: its whizzing-out-of-control splash seeming willful rather than part of a whole that provides appropriately similar contrast.

John Seroff: “Paddling Ghost”‘s first minute is a mish mash of fuzzed out drums, dueling thumb pianos and a whirling rolling rainbow of keyboard chords, and that’s as good as it gets. The song takes a steep drop with the introduction of pitch-shifted squealing vocals and a lazy and uninteresting second track. Neither iteration of Deacon’s voice is particularly musical, and the lyrics are an incomprehensible mess. A healthy dollop of chiptune in the third act does little to help matters; what started as an engaging and enjoyable foray into the wild becomes irritating and far too clever for its own good. There’s an awesome song (maybe even two) somewhere in the midst of all this maximalist muck, but the headache inducing shrieking and visibly ragged seams don’t give much incentive to go hunting for it.

Alfred Soto: Taking Tiger Mountain-era Eno meets “Pop Goes the World”-era Men Without Hats, and not bad. But both influences evince a certain cuteness that starts to curdle after the first minute. The thinness of the mix doesn’t help.

Kat Stevens: Cute video, but on a repeat listen this is basically just Magical Trevor fed through a mincer.

Anthony Easton: The ghost is a pirate, and has a pony. I want a pony. This is how to do sweet and cute well, so it becomes interesting and not diabetes-inducing twee. Plus one of the few uses of the childrens choir that does not make me want to kill, most likely because it is heavily processed.

Peter Parrish: I know the overcompression/loudness wars stuff can get a bit zealous sometimes, but we’ve got to make a straight indentation in beachy climes here. Put this shit in a waveform editor and you will see a brick. Sure, not everything comes down to dynamics and sonic finesse, and I guess a horrific clipping mess of sound must be Dan Deacon’s artistic statement or whatever, but you can do noise without totally screwing up the mix. Even Pinky and Perky deserve better than this unapproachable wall of sludge.

Martin Skidmore: I’m interested in how my reaction kept changing here. A twiddly beginning with what sounds like a glockenspiel was disheartening, then it leapt into driving electronica (I was thinking Add N To (X)), then he starts layering vocals in the way that is a current indie fashion, and then there is more electro propulsion… It’s experimental and interesting, but completely resists any kind of catchiness or ease. I’d like to hear more of him, which is what tips me well onto the positive side.

Ian Mathers: Manic tempos and squeaky Chipmunk voices normally bug the hell out of me, but by the time Deacon himself starts singing there’s actually something quite charming about “Paddling Ghost.” It’s only intermittent (and pretty much restricted to those bits with the “aaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhh”ing backing vocals) but, when “Paddling Ghost” is firing on all cylinders, it’s surprisingly interesting.

Edward Okulicz: It’s like the giddy thrill and excitement of staying up eight hours after bedtime to play some fiendishly addictive 8-bit video game crammed into four minutes. Complete with the attendant headache too. Nonetheless, entertaining.

2 Responses to “Dan Deacon – Paddling Ghost”

  1. Completely enthralling. A totally addicting song, full of fun- much like the majority of his other work. It left me feeling like I needed more. It’s too bad the song is not longer..

  2. i guess i’m one of the weird ones here. i love this song. and can’t stop listening to it. i’m weary of the guitar right now. sick of kings of leons and strokes and bands of horses and even broken social scenes. i need something new and fresh and forward-looking and pushing, and that something has come in the form of acts like animal collective, passion pit, and dan deacon.

    honestly, i didn’t get dan until i saw him at lollapalooza. . .while fairly high. i danced my ass off. you can’t really use this stuff as background noise. it’s meant to be listened to intently. and it’s meant to do things to your mind and body.

    paddling ghost makes my every molecule shake dey ass.