You can often tell a lot about a band by the producers they choose to help them craft their sound. U2 was elevated to a whole new level when it teamed up with Brian Eno. Nirvana built their sound largely in collaboration with Butch Vig only to deconstruct it with Steve Albini. Rick Rubin is maybe more famous then some of the artists he has produced. What is kind of interesting is when these producer's make their own records. Eno dives into orchestral electronica, Vig created GARBAGE, Albini has SHELLAC. Which brings me to Peter Katis and THE PHILISTINES JR.
Who is Peter Katis? Well, he has had a hand in recent efforts by the likes of FRIGHTENED RABBIT, THE NATIONAL, and TOKYO POLICE CLUB (all three of which were on my top 20 of last year). So when I found out he had his own band with his brother it begged checking out. What the brothers Katis have created is an odd, engaging and gorgeous piece of music.
In many ways, The Philistines Jr. remind me of POLARIS (who served as the house band for a great show called the "The Adventures of Pete and Pete") in that they find lyrical inspiration in the mundane aspects of life. Songs given as advice to the youth in the world and ruminations about bus stop etiquette mix with deeper thoughts about war and politics in an unusual symmetry. Musically, their are baroque pop moments melded with indie rock staples. Glockenspiels and drums and theramins flitter in and out. Everything seems to have a purpose and yet the elements are so disparate. The highlight of the record, "My Brother Tom, The Green Beret" is a sublime piece of heaven sliced as a perfect pop song. The whole exercise if alive with new sounds and thoughts after each listen. "If A Band Played in the Woods..." is a remarkable record and one that should remove these brothers from the shadows of music producer anonymity.