Top 100 Artists of the Decade: #89 Deerhoof
The Top 100 Artists of the Decade list will be posted over the course of 100 days. On September 23rd, we will post one artist and continue every day until December 31st, when we will unveil our #1 artist of the decade!
Please read our introduction to learn about our nominating and ordering process.
My friend, Dane, is a tall man. He's about 6'4" and has a strong build. He's a nice guy and I think most people would say the same. He went to college to be an engineer and, believe it or not, he now hammers out mathematical projects as an engineer. He wears slacks and a collared shirt to work, sometimes a tie, and switches his uniform with workout clothes when he gets home. He's got a pit bull named Bruce, who is also my friend. They do things together like father and son and they both enjoy each other's company more than anyone else's. All in all, Dane seems like a normal guy. He wakes up to go to work, works hard, and comes home. He's like a Clark Kent. But, there's something more to Dane than meets the eye. It's something I recognized about ten years ago when he introduced me to Autechre. Yes, Autechre. That's not normal guy stuff, right? That's something Superman listens to, not Clark Kent! But, he didn't really go into much detail about it. He just said, "This is good, you'll like this," and I never heard anything else about it. So, I've kept an eye on Dane and, in the past decade, I've seen glimpses of his cape every now and then. Once, he was giving me directions to a bar on the other side of town and ended up sketching a map with trees, people, buildings, and cars, which, despite his haste, was very detailed, very artistic. There have been other times where he's shown his creative side, which seems to contradict his surface, but you get the point.
Then, about a year ago, I heard something in the other room. It sounded like a fight, like a riot, a melee - the floor pounding and possibly yelling, but I couldn't hear it clearly because there was a muffed sound of music covering it all up. I opened the door and saw it. I was shocked. It was just Dane, jumping up and down, head almost hitting the ceiling, dancing to some rock music. He wore a fearless grin on his face and was on the verge of sweating. His eyes were closed.
"Dane!" I yelled. "Dane!"
He opened his eyes and stopped jumping, but still smiling. He turned down the music an said, "What?"
"What are you doing?" I asked, as if to say, "Who are you?"
"Do you like Deerhoof? " he asked, eagerly.
"Yeah," I said, slightly taken aback.
"Me too. Have you heard Reveille?"
"No, actually, I haven't." I was first introduced to Deerhoof with Apple O' and had heard each album and EP after that.
"Oh man!" he responded, shocked at the notion. "Listen."
He pressed play and started jump-dancing again with an even bigger smile. As I listened, I thought to myself, "I knew it. He's masquerading as Clark Kent, but he knows what's up."
After that revelation, I went and listened to Reveille, their sixth album, which was released in 2002, in its entirety. Although somewhat under the radar, Reveille truly encapsulates the essence of Deerhoof - percussive freakouts, oddball rhythms, childlike vocals, grinding guitars - all erratically structured. "Bang your head to your favorite song," Satomi Matsuzaki sings on "Hallelujah Chorus," the shortest and sweetest song on the album. She says it without any judgment, as if your best interest is what she's striving for. It is Deerhoof's motto and it is what has made them such an important part of music in this decade. Their music is genuine, it doesn't fall into the norm, and that's perfectly fine. Since Reveille, Deerhoof has been consistently releasing records that have challenged the standard structures of music. They fly their flag high and wear their cape with pride. So, go ahead and bang your head to your favorite song, like Deerhoof says. And, keep dancing, Dane.