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Alternative & Indie - Released May 29, 2020 | Joyful Noise Recordings

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Pop - Released May 1, 2009 | Kill Rock Stars

After the brilliant sprawl of The Runners Four, it would've made sense if Deerhoof continued in the same direction on their next album. It turns out that Friend Opportunity is a model of efficiency, packing just as much dazzling creativity into ten tracks as The Runners Four did into 20. This new approach could be seen as a reaction to the departure of Chris Cohen, who left to concentrate on his own band, the Curtains, but Deerhoof is such a mercurial group that some kind of change was inevitable. And, as good as The Runners Four was, Friend Opportunity just might be even better. It's as though the band took the ideas they tossed around last time -- more streamlined, structured songs combined with a wider sonic palette -- and threw in more highly concentrated sweetness and weirdness for good measure. Though most of these songs are short, they've got a lot of presence, and Friend Opportunity opens with three of Deerhoof's most adorable, accessible songs yet. "The Perfect Me" kicks off the album with galloping percussion and organs that sound like rays of sun bursting through clouds, two of Friend Opportunity's main musical motifs. "+81" is the single, which makes sense, since its collision of acrobatic guitars, subtle electronics, marching band snippets, and irresistible "choo-choo-choo-choo beep beep" chorus distills the album's kitchen-sink pop perfectly. "Believe ESP" is a surprisingly funky departure, with a slinky melody that lilts, slithers, and takes detours into chamber pop and noisy breakdowns, yet still sounds purposeful. Later on, this ultra-pop side of Deerhoof resurfaces with "Matchbook Seeks Maniac," which easily ranks as one of the band's best songs yet. It's also one of their most straightforward songs, with a soaring melody that leads into a bittersweet yet rousing chorus, but lyrics like "I would sell my soul to the devil/If I could be on top of the world" keep things nicely unpredictable. The other facets of Deerhoof's sound sparkle on Friend Opportunity, too: they explore their softer side with "Whither the Invisible Birds?," a symphonic ballad sweet and yearning enough for a cartoon heroine, and "Choco Fight," which is surprisingly pretty and mellow, given its title. Things get more experimental as Friend Opportunity ends: "Kidz Are So Small" is a startling track, even by Deerhoof's standards, with Satomi Matsuzaki singing from the perspective of a dog and a man over tumbling beats and rubbery synths (based on this song and Milk Man's "Dog on the Sidewalk," man's best friend inspires some of the band's most out-there songs). "Look Away," an 11-minute suite-like piece, balances the rest of Friend Opportunity's poppiness with loping guitar riffs, rambling pianos, and keyboards that sound like feedback. Deerhoof is in an undeniable groove -- with each album, they make their flights of fancy seem easier, and push pop's boundaries farther. Friend Opportunity is the perfect name for their approach: they look for, and find, the best possibilities in whatever comes their way. © Heather Phares /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released September 8, 2017 | Joyful Noise Recordings

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Pop - Released May 1, 2009 | Kill Rock Stars

After seven albums' worth of gleeful pandemonium, Deerhoof calm things down a bit with The Runners Four, a collection of songs that are even more restrained than Milk Man and the Green Cosmos EP. Perhaps trying for the unpredictability of their earlier work got too, well, predictable for the band. Even though the manic intensity that characterized work like Reveille is missed a little here, The Runners Four is still a far cry from typical indie rock; in fact, it sounds more like one of Deerhoof's older albums played at half-speed than anything else. Most importantly, the joyful creativity that radiates from all of the band's other work is here in spades, too: it's hard not to smile at "Twin Killers"' zigzagging riffs or "Scream Team"'s giddy, girl-boy vocals. At the beginning of the album, there's more of an emphasis on pretty, relatively gentle songs like "Chatterboxes," "Odyssey," and "Vivid Cheek Love Song," although even these tracks have enough shifts in tempo and dynamics to prove that they're the work of Deerhoof. However, as The Runners Four unfolds, it gets progressively louder and more overtly playful, with "Spirit Ditties of No Tone," "Lightning Rod, Run," and "O'Malley, Former Underdog" providing some of the album's most irresistible moments. By the time "You're Our Two" and "Rrrrrrright" close out the album, Deerhoof are back to the sugar-buzzing rock of their early days. In between these extremes are the pretty pop of "Running Thoughts" and noisy, experimental cuts such as "Midnight Bicycle Mystery" and "Bone-Dry," which recalls the more elliptical moments of Deerhoof offshoot Curtains. While it's not as clearly conceptual as Milk Man was, The Runners Four also seems to tell an extended, if fractured, story involving murderous twin beauties, spies, pirates, and smugglers. There's a lot to look and listen for in The Runners Four; it's Deerhoof's longest, most eclectic work yet, and more proof that the band can expand its sound without losing what makes it special. © Heather Phares /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released May 15, 2020 | Joyful Noise Recordings

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Alternative & Indie - Released September 29, 2020 | Joyful Noise Recordings

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Alternative & Indie - Released March 9, 2004 | Kill Rock Stars

Deerhoof follows Apple O', an album that won the group ever-growing critical and popular acclaim, with Milk Man, an album even more conceptual and song-oriented than its predecessor. Inspired by the spooky yet adorable work of illustrator Ken Kagami -- whose art graces the album's cover and liner notes -- Milk Man tells the tale of a masked, pied piper-like being who lures children into his dreamland and then traps them there. The vision and the visuals surrounding the album are a perfect fit with Deerhoof's music, and, perhaps befitting Milk Man's status as a concept album, this time around the band incorporates more prog rock-like keyboards and other electronics into its sound. The pretty ballad "Dream Wanderer's Tune," with its lyrics about kings in castles in the sky and its playfully elaborate keyboards, exemplifies Deerhoof's move to more intricate, contemplative music. Since the album is relatively restrained, it's not quite as buoyant as Apple O' or Reveille, and it lacks a little bit of the delirious overload of Deerhoof's earliest work, but that doesn't mean that it's less distinctive. "Desapareceré" is one of Milk Man's best and most unique tracks, mixing clicking and shuffling electronic drums with sugary synths and Spanish lyrics into a very different take on electronic pop; "Dog on the Sidewalk" consists mostly of bubbling and fizzing electronics and Satomi Matsuzaki's deceptively simple vocals. Milk Man does have its fair share of noise, particularly on the instrumentals "Rainbow Silhouette of the Milky Rain" and "That Big Orange Sun Run Over Speed Light," as well as on "Song of Sorn," which starts out as a burst of noise and ends up oddly, but distinctly, poppy. This poppiness is responsible for many of Milk Man's best moments, including the sunny title track and "Milking" -- which are among the most straightforwardly melodic songs Deerhoof have ever written -- as well as the sweet final track, "New Sneakers," which does indeed capture the childlike glee of new shoes in lyrics like "Skipping all over with these shoes/Oh speed." Milk Man isn't all sweetness and light, though: Greg Saunier's lumbering drumming adds an extra edge to the monster party that is "Giga Dance"; "C"'s brittle vocal melody is mirrored by guitars that are pretty at first but then turn loud and thrashy. But even in its louder moments, Milk Man is a surprisingly subtle album, and one that takes Deerhoof's music in quietly exciting new directions. © Heather Phares /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released April 17, 2010 | Kill Rock Stars

Crashing in at just over half an hour long, Apple O' brims over with as many vivid bursts of musical and lyrical inspiration as Deerhoof's other albums, but offers a little more conceptual structure for the band's outbursts and childlike melodies. As the title implies, Apple O' (my eye) revolves around the band's musings on love, sex, and creation, and in its own way, their freewheeling, spontaneous style captures the feeling of being head over heels perfectly. Songs like "Dummy Discards a Heart" -- which loosely likens being in love to playing cards -- and "Flower" make such a joyful noise that it's difficult not to be swept up in the band's quirky but potent happiness. This invigorating feel seeps into even the quieter tracks on Apple O', such as "The Forbidden Fruits," a jazzy excursion in which Satomi Matsuzaki explores the phonetic beauty of the phrase "Leopard fur no store," and the strummy, folky finale "Blue Cash." Matsuzaki's vocals play a bigger part on this album than they do on Deerhoof's prior album, the excellent Reveille, which also gives Apple O' a poppier, more accessible bent than some of their earlier work; with their rippling guitars and sweet vocals, "Heart Failure," "Dinner for Two," and "L'Amour Stories" come close to being straightforwardly pretty. However, Deerhoof doesn't neglect the crazier side of their music, with the firecracker guitars on "My Diamond Star Car," the jerky rhythms of "Panda Panda Panda," and the abrasive "Hayley and Homer" providing a fix for the initiated and potentially irritating those unwilling to play along with the band's noisy naïveté. Not surprisingly, Apple O''s best moments mix the pretty with the powerful and unpredictable: "Sealed With a Kiss" mixes a singsong melody with elephantine basslines, fizzy guitars, a brass band, and what sounds like a chicken clucking. Meanwhile, the bittersweet "Apple Bomb" retells the Adam and Eve myth in elliptical, but surprisingly descriptive terms ("I said god/In the trees it's lovely/But it's lonely/With a bone/He will try to clone me/Make a mother/There will be another me"), before the song does indeed explode in a blaze of distortion. It doesn't matter that the parts of Deerhoof's music don't seem to go together at first -- their music aims directly at the right side of the brain, and is nearly successful as the Shaggs' work in making chaos sound cuddly and even kind of beautiful. Apple O' brings some order to Deerhoof's spontaneity, offering plenty of sweetness without forgetting their bite. © Heather Phares /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released September 4, 2012 | Polyvinyl Records

Over the course of their ten previous albums, Deerhoof wrote more songs about milkmen and dogs than falling in, or out, of love, but Breakup Song evens the score a little bit. In true Deerhoof fashion, though, this album is less about moping -- the title track even has "hell yeah" in the chorus -- and more about relationships, and songs, falling apart into exciting new forms. The band takes the album's name quite literally on a musical level; nearly every track is rife with jagged textures and jarring contrasts. "There's That Grin" throws together bubbly electro beats and ping-ponging electric guitars and snippets, and though its initial randomness sounds like the whole album condensed and then tossed into a blender, there's a method to Breakup Song's seeming madness. Deerhoof use some of their favorite tricks on these songs, such as wild juxtapositions of sound and mood, but use them in far bolder ways than they have in some time, distilling these twists and turns into concentrated blasts of weirdo-pop that grow more addictive with repeated listens. The way that heavy synths shift to a boogie rock beat on "To Fly or Not to Fly," for example, might be more startling than the band's approach on albums such as Deerhoof vs. Evil, but it resolves itself into a kind of anti-hook that just might be more memorable than something that was catchy from the start. Of course, there are also plenty of immediately hooky moments as well, such as the fittingly pixilated sounds of the imaginary video game jingle "Mario's Flaming Whiskers III Out Now," but Breakup Song's best moments pair the album's frantic sonics with lyrics that are more grounded in a reality familiar to most listeners than many of the band's previous songs. "Zero Seconds Pause" manages to capture the rush of being on the dancefloor while not being particularly danceable in its own right, while "The Trouble with Candyhands" soundtracks Satomi Matsuzaki's realization that her guy has been a "bad boy" when he brings her flowers with mambo rhythms and bouncy guitar pop, making for one of the band's best singles in some time. "Fete D'Adieu" closes the album with a pretty musical and romantic truce as Matsuzaki sings about "a muscle in the heart," the kind that can only get stronger with some wear and tear. Deerhoof pack love lost and won again -- along with dancing, parties, and video games -- into an album the length of the average sitcom, and while the band releases albums so frequently that they risk burnout among all but the most dedicated fans, Breakup Song is fresh and addictive enough to make listeners fall in love all over again. © Heather Phares /TiVo
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Pop/Rock - Released January 24, 2011 | Polyvinyl Records

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Alternative & Indie - Released July 13, 1999 | Kill Rock Stars

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Alternative & Indie - Released October 31, 2014 | Polyvinyl Records

Deerhoof celebrated their 20th anniversary with the release of La Isla Bonita, another fine example of how the band changes course on almost every album. Like Deerhoof vs. Evil and Breakup Song before it, Bonita is another concentrated burst of whimsy. It's a format that suits Deerhoof, as well as this album's inspiration, the Ramones. The cover of "Pinhead" they played during rehearsals shaped the album's approach, and in many ways, this is Deerhoof's version of garage rock (or technically, basement rock -- the band bashed out La Isla Bonita in Ed Rodriguez's basement in a week). The Ramones influence is clearest on "Exit Only"'s blitzkrieg riffs and bratty beats, though lyrics like "welcome to speech of freedom" are Deerhoof through and through. Elsewhere, they reconfigure punk's guitar-bass-drums approach into fascinating interplay. Rodriguez and John Dieterich's guitars are more active than they've been in some time: "Tiny Bubbles" alone ranges from surf-lounge to intricate, knotty passages and tight, disco-inspired rhythms, while the pair's work on "Big House Waltz" is dense and spacious at the same time. It's a big shift from Breakup Song's fractured electropop -- indeed, there's a surprisingly funky groove behind the winning "Paradise Girls," an homage to "smart girls" who "play bass guitar" with a riff reminiscent of the Ohio Players' "Love Rollercoaster," and "Oh Bummer," which boasts a taut rhythm section that evokes Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean." Elsewhere, Deerhoof play off their own history as much as any of their other influences: "Doom," a fuzzy rocker that's more charming than storming, could've appeared on one of their early-2000s albums along with the appealingly herky-jerky "Last Fad," while "Mirror Monster" puts their often-neglected serene side in the spotlight. Even on these songs, it feels more like Deerhoof are coming full circle than looking back; that they've been able to put different but cohesive spins on their sound so well, and for so long, is truly remarkable. © Heather Phares /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released June 24, 2016 | Polyvinyl Records

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Alternative & Indie - Released October 28, 1997 | Kill Rock Stars

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Alternative & Indie - Released May 1, 2009 | Kill Rock Stars

More expansive than Friend Opportunity, not quite as sprawling as The Runners Four, Offend Maggie is among Deerhoof's most balanced albums. However, that doesn't convey the sense of adventure that courses through every track. "The Tears and Music of Love" begins the album with emphatic guitars that turn mischievous and a shape-shifting melody that keeps changing right up to the song's end. Offend Maggie is one of Deerhoof's most riff-filled albums since Apple O', thanks to the addition of second guitarist Edward Rodriguez to the fold: power chords set off the flute-like purity of Satomi Matsuzaki's voice on "My Purple Past," and the acoustic strumming on "Don't Get Born" makes its brevity all the more striking. The band brings both of theses sounds together brilliantly on "Offend Maggie" itself, which moves from a briskly lilting acoustic figure that recalls a sped-up John Fahey or Ali Farka Touré to plugged-in chugging, while Matsuzaki sings about a telemarketing romance gone wrong over rollicking drums. That Deerhoof can pack so much appeal and inventiveness into two minutes shows, once again, that they don't so much "go pop" as remake pop in their own image. Elsewhere, Offend Maggie gives equal time to the charming but not too cutesy Deerhoof with the hyper-expressive "Basket Ball Get Your Groove Back," where Matsuzaki becomes the ball as she describes how the players dance and weave on the court, and "Snoopy Waves," which buries its bubblegummy melody under drums and distortion. The more challenging Deerhoof surfaces on "Eaguru Guru," which name-checks the German prog rock band Guru Guru and nods to prog with its massive keyboards and guitars, intricate rhythms, and suite-like movements. "Fresh Born"'s towering bassline and spiraling guitars make it Deerhoof's version of funk-rock, while "This Is God Speaking"'s distorted vocals and rinky-dink electronics sound like an homage to Experimental Dental School. The introspective Deerhoof get their due on "Family of Others," where a spooky intro gives way to John Dieterich's vocal harmonies, rippling guitars, and meditations on interconnectedness, and on "Jagged Fruit"'s jazzy, moody finality. While Offend Maggie isn't as dramatic a change from what came before it as Friend Opportunity and The Runners Four were, its subtler changes and elaborations make it far from predictable -- other than that, it's another consistently interesting Deerhoof album. © Heather Phares /TiVo
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Pop - Released June 4, 2002 | Kill Rock Stars

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Alternative & Indie - Released November 17, 2001 | Menlo Park Recordings

With Deerhoof's fourth album, Halfbird, the San Francisco-based trio channeled their chaotic tendencies into actual songs without losing much, if any, of their playful absurdity and pummeling energy. Like Yoko Ono fronting the White Stripes, Deerhoof combines avant wordplay with bluesy, punked-out garage rock, with vocalist Satomi Matsuzaki teetering between inviting whispers and a patience-testing falsetto. Not light listening by any stretch, but the album's loud-soft dynamic is easily digested after a few listens. From the quiet yet brooding meditation of "Red Dragon" and "Xmas Tree" to the all-out sonic mayhem of "Rat Attack" and "Trickybird," Halfbird is a well-paced and adventurous collection. Maybe not as successful as Reveille, but certainly a close second. © Jason Nickey /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released January 29, 2016 | Polyvinyl Records

Given the size of Deerhoof's songbook and their frequent touring, it's a little surprising that they didn't release an official live album until 2015's Fever 121614, Live in Japan. Nevertheless, it lives up to the band's reputation as a consistently fun live act. Not surprisingly, Fever 121614 features more than a few songs from 2014's La Isla Bonita. The live setting lets that album's punk influence shine, whether on "Exit Only"'s hurtling riffs or "Paradise Girls"' winning combination of sprightly and crushing. Throughout the album, the muscle behind Deerhoof's musical gymnastics is apparent: "Dummy Discards a Heart" sounds even more like a bizarro version of stadium rock here than the studio version did, while "Come See the Duck" gets an extra shot of adrenaline. Meanwhile, the clever segue from "Twin Killers" to "I Did Crimes for You" allows the songs to flow like a six-minute rock opera that would make the Who proud. Deerhoof throw in a few surprises as well, transforming "Flower" into a jazzy, minor-key workout and giving "Let's Dance the Jet" a surf-metal makeover. The album's only drawback -- and it's a small one -- is that it doesn't quite capture the electric crowd energy of a typical Deerhoof show. Regardless, Fever 121614, Live in Japan delivers most of what makes the band so engaging in concert. © Heather Phares /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released February 3, 2009 | Kill Rock Stars

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Alternative & Indie - Released October 26, 2018 | Famous Class