Neon Blonde - Chandeliers in the Savannah (Cover Artwork)

Neon Blonde

Neon Blonde: Chandeliers in the SavannahChandeliers in the Savannah (2005)
Dim Mak

Reviewer Rating: 4
User Rating:

Contributed by: Matt_WhelihanMatt Whelihan
(others by this writer | submit your own)

I know I said before that Neon Blonde was essentially an electronic side project for Blood Brothers members Johnny Whitney and Mark Gajadhar, but after digesting the convulsive twisting beast that is Chandeliers in the Savannah, I realize that description not only fails to do the band justice, but a.
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I know I said before that Neon Blonde was essentially an electronic side project for Blood Brothers members Johnny Whitney and Mark Gajadhar, but after digesting the convulsive twisting beast that is Chandeliers in the Savannah, I realize that description not only fails to do the band justice, but also screams of incorrectness. While Neon Blonde is indeed a side project for Whitney and Gajadhar, their electronic tendencies are far from dominant. Instead, the programmed beats and synth created beeps are merely one tactic the band has chosen to employ. As their songs teeter on the brink of chaos, playing like soundtracks for urban decay and post-apocalypse, you will find that the duo are just as adroit at kicking out some avant noise guitar spasms or ballad suggesting piano lines, as they are glitchy dance freakouts.

Much like their full-time gig, Whitney and Gajadhar create a world that is bleak. It is filled with pre-packaged smiles and airbrushed body parts to create a pleasurable veneer, while violence, decomposition, and a twisted sensuality claw to get out. Whitney's vocals aid in creating a sinister and sometimes hair-raising atmosphere while the music's sudden shifts and unusual sonic combinations serve as the perfect representation of the band's macabre world-view.

What makes the songs on Chandeliers in the Savannah so impressive is that while they could each garner multiple genre comparisons as they meander through their strange courses, there is enough of a sense of melody and composition to keep them from completely going awry. They don't walk the fine line between abrasive and accessible, they leap over it and then dash back.

Opener "Black Cactus Killer" could almost pass for a Blood Brothers song. Whitney's guitar lines recall Cody Votolato's own Telecaster work, while his voice runs the gamut between shriek and shit-talking. The major differences are that the choruses aren't as loud, and of course Jordan Blilie isn't there to back up Whitney.

"Crystal Beaches Never Turned Me On" features the first signs of electronics with its simple programmed beat and echoing noises, which are ridden by Whitney's running piano lines during the verse and staccato keys during the choruses. It is these piano lines that keep the song rooted while Whitney explodes into screams.

On "Chandeliers and Vines," it is the piano work that again keeps the song completely under control, as Whitney exhibits a surprising range and keen ear for melody. Neon Blonde have you convinced they have written a pop song until nearly two minutes in when a drum roll-filled freakout full of random piano plonks, off-kilter sax notes, and feral cries erupts.

The rest of the album continues to explore completely new territory with a heavy focus on the noise/melody dichotomy. "New Detroit" opens with a clunky acoustic and bongos that sound straight out of an Animal Collective song, before moving on to a Bowie-esque stomp, a revamped shout-fest version of the opening section, and eventually an outro that again recalls Animal Collective thanks to its soft vocal chants.

"Dead Mellotron" is choppy, spastic, and biting except for its organ-only bridge where Whitney sounds eerily like Joanna Newsome, while "The Future Is a Mesh Stallion" is the closest thing the band has to a club banger, and "Wings Made of Noise" simply boasts a Postal Service backing and basic guitar strum.

Chandeliers in the Savannah takes some time to explore. Often Whitney's vocals can seem misplaced or strangely delivered, but after repeat listens these once distracting moments become welcome surprises.

The album is almost like a pop album for people who are sick of pop's conventions. You will find the high-pitched offensive screams and awkward noise breakdowns eventually become stuck in your head just like a soft melody or poppy hook would. Whitney and Gajadhar know how to write songs, but they also know how to deconstruct them, break some of the parts, and then put them back together. Everything isn't working properly, but damn does it still get the job done.


People who liked this also liked:
The Blood Brothers - Young MachetesAgainst Me! - is Reinventing Axl RoseThe Blood Brothers - CrimesAgainst Me! - Searching For A Former ClarityThe Blood Brothers - Burn Piano Island, BurnNOFX - The DeclineThursday - Full CollapseThe Sound Of Animals Fighting - Tiger And The DukeDescendents - Milo Goes To CollegeAt The Drive-In - Relationship Of Command

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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
Anonymous (December 24, 2005)

How is that review "flamebait?" Flamebait is meaninglessly trying to rile people up, the review was honestly saying that the record sucked because it wasn't punk. Okay, whatever, but that's about all it said. If you're going to devastate a record in a review, make sure to say why.

I think critics forget that it's not their job to be entertaining or funny if they're not getting the basics done- informing people of what the music sounds like and why they like/dislike it (aside from inane and often bullshit reasons).

And the Yeah Yeah Yeahs are cool. So are the Hives.


givemeamuseumandillfillit (December 24, 2005)

Will, i thought someone like you would be able to see through flamebait. And you like the hives AND the yeah yeah yeahs?

Anonymous (December 24, 2005)

The Head Wound City EP is really good, spastic hardcore. Remember when some know-nothing reviewed the Yeah Yeah Yeahs album and called it an "indie trend?" That was one of the low points of this web site.


Anonymous (December 24, 2005)

the Blood Brothers and everything else connected to them is AWFUL.

benz (December 24, 2005)

While not on my best of lists or anything, this definetly is a solid effort.


sethcohen (December 23, 2005)

This album is awesome. In my top 5 for the year

Anonymous (December 23, 2005)

fuck the blood brothers....its all about coheed and cambria?!?!?! hahahahah

Anonymous (December 23, 2005)

This is a really good review.

etwiels88 (December 23, 2005)

4? ehhh. I couldn't find a reason to play this again once it was over

cherrycolarain (December 23, 2005)

I was almost dissapointed, when I heard that this was the Blood Bros. but it does grow on you. A very good realease. However, I doubt it could ever out do anything The Blood Brothers have ever done and will do. As for Bilile I heard a while ago he himself had a side project called Head Wound City along with some dudes from The Locust. I heard one song and it blew me away. It seems that Jordan took the hardcore of The Blood Brothers and Johnny took the dancable.

Both are great projects...but as I said, they will never out do what the two together can do.

Anonymous (December 23, 2005)

Awesome record! One of the best of the year!

skaboom (December 23, 2005)

This is a really good album. They really emphasize the funky sort of groove that Blood Brothers hint at on some songs. Dance music for hipsters!

Anonymous (December 23, 2005)

is this band worse than the blood brothers?

GreenVandal (December 23, 2005)

I think he quite clearly stated that this isn't electronic music.

What about Refused?

Limited and ignorant people are my favorites.

Anonymous (December 23, 2005)

electronic music? no thanks. punk was supposed to be the disco killer.

Anonymous (December 23, 2005)

I personally love the song "Chandeliers and Vines". It's a great album if you take the time to listen to it a few times. It kind of grows on you.


givemeamuseumandillfillit (December 23, 2005)

My #1 of 2005. It's stunning.

Anonymous (December 23, 2005)

very good album. very good review.

aubin (December 23, 2005)

Great review Matt; and I agree, it really is an impressive record.

theundergroundscene (December 23, 2005)

ehh it's okay

Anonymous (December 23, 2005)

One of the greatest albums of 2005. The reviewer is right, these songs are so damn catchy but they don't reveal their catchiness until at least three of four spins. A talented duo indeed.

ElVaquero (December 23, 2005)

The album is a very good listen that becomes a great one when you think about it and examine it. No talk about "Headlines" is blasphemy considering it's the single from the album and also the best track.

Anonymous (December 23, 2005)

teh ghey

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