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NEW New Pornographers - Challengers (CD)

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Product Details

  • Audio CD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • ASIN: B000S9KSC8
  • In-Print Editions: Audio CD  |  LP Record
  • Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #117,454 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.3 out of 5 stars 58 reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beyond "indie" -- New Pornographers are a powerful musical force Oct. 24 2007
By John Stodder - Published on
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This band is mistakenly lumped with the "indie" movement, partly because they choose to associate with other artists with that profile, due to the fact that Carl Newman and Neko Case just happen to be very nice, sharing types of people. But, to me, "indie" is a negating kind of definition. Indie = Not too much production, not too much fame. Lo-tech, lo-fi, lo-expectations.

The New Pornographers are far more sweeping, ambitious and powerful. They might as well just be rock stars -- they're as good as any rock stars ever to roam the planet. They are all highly skilled musicians, from the drummer on up. The arrangements are meticulous and yet never feel over-thought or overdone. The lyrics on this new album are somewhat less obscure than on previous records -- obviously they are very heartfelt, as other critics have noted.

The intensity of most of the Newman numbers is perfectly balanced by Bejar's goofy but equally compelling contributions, and, appropriately, they give him the closer because it's the most beautiful song he's ever written for the band.

Like "Twin Cinema," this album holds up to repeated listenings, and each time a new song emerges as a favorite. Now I've come round full circle and my favorite song is the first track, "My Rights Versus Yours," an ingenious tune with a great melody, a dramatic arrangement, a perfect vocal arrangement and solid lyrics. The song, which kicks off the CD, perfectly encapsulates the CD as a whole. It starts out very delicately, quieter than anything they've done up to this point. But after the first verse, the rhythm section kicks in and starts driving the song, and you see that the fragile melody is actually quite a bit sturdier than it first seemed. Finally the whole thing resolves into a churning, thrashing beat, over which Carl, Neko and whoever else harmonize on a lyrical fragment like a kind of chant. And then it's over -- NP songs generally do not outstay their welcome. Nor does this album.

A few other current favorites: "Challengers," great vocal arrangement. "All The Things That Go To Make Heaven and Earth," a Twin Cinema-remiscent rocker, but somehow cleaner and more from the gut. "Myriad Harbor," one of Dan Bejar's most amusing tunes ever. "Unguided," the emotional heart of the album, and their longest song ever. "Go Places," where, after a diversion for some more Bejar zaniness, comes the payoff. "Mutiny I Promise You," the album's only real throwback, this song would have been the best tune on Electric Version.

If you've read this far, you know you're going to get it, so just buy it and enjoy it.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Erratic, but truly stellar in places Sept. 25 2008
By vertov - Published on
Verified Purchase
I was introduced to NPs by someone who was way more into indie music than me, but since I was way more into her than she was into me, I tried hard to like them, but I just couldn't stand most of their earlier work. Now, a couple of years later, Challengers falls into my lap, and I can't get enough of it.

That's not true. I can't stand what I consider the more manic stuff on here, like Myriad Harbour, All The Things, Entering White Cecilia, and Mutiny. They scream at me as I rush to turn the sound down.


My Rights Versus Yours, Challengers, Go Places, and particularly Unguided have poignant and rich lyrics that gain more meaning to me after continued listening. They're wrapped in nicely layered sound that just reverberates around my car when I'm listening to them. I listened to a preview of the title track before I bought it and was really sucked in, ended up buying the entire album. Now all four of these tracks are in my top 25 most played on my iPod in the last three years, and I've only owned them for one!

I hope I don't offend the diehards - not my intention! This is just an opinion of a curious listener. I continue to be intrigued by this album that has four of my favorite songs and four of my least favorite in one place. And regardless, it was WELL worth the purchase.
5.0 out of 5 stars Not Sure What to Call It Dec 6 2007
By Buzz - Published on
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I don't know where to start. (Be gentle, this is my first time.)
N.P. is a rock band. But it isn't a group of people who just take a tune and jam with it, recording as they go. This stuff is composed, arranged, and must require many, many rehearsals prior to recording. N.P. uses a huge variety of rhythms, melodies, chord structures, and instrumentation. Better yet is that there are counter rhythms, melodies, chord structures, and instrumentation. If you don't particularly care for what you are currently hearing, just wait 15 seconds. Stuff changes a lot. I am constantly thinking "how did he (he, being A. C. Newman, I believe) come up with that".
The above described type of music, to me, makes N.P. (particularly this album) a group to be listened to - not a background type of thing, though their earlier albums are more standard R&R, and therefore more of something I might put on in the background. This album made me buy their first three. My take is that they are progressing from a "never quite standard" R&R band to something different, something special. I don't like the method of recording the first album - to me, it is somewhat muffled. The second album is still more of a pure R&R. It's still really good, with some of the chord and instrumentation variations but, generally speaking, each cut keeping the beat it started with all the way through. Album three is a continued expansion of Newman's talent, and properly fits between the R&R and the "not sure what to call it" style of album four.
What groups does N.P. sound like? Nobody I know. But while listening, certain parts make me think of Queen, Beatles, Beach Boys, and Pink Floyd. Mostly, I think N.P. is unique.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Different - but the same, - and still excellent. Sept. 17 2007
By M. Trippi - Published on
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Tell me something. Did the Beatles sound the same on "Rubber Soul" as they did on "Meet the Beatles"? No, of course not. Does that make "Rubber Soul" any less interesting of an album? Quite the opposite. The same goes for the New Pornographers' latest release which, like the Fab Four's middle period albums, has more variety and subtlety than their early albums, but still retains the pop song artistry that they've been known for in the past. Actually, they've always had their slower, quieter side on a few songs from previous albums, so this transition shouldn't be completely unexpected by NP fans. And of course, they deliver the goods (meaning manic rockin' out) the same as they've ever done on at least two or three tracks here. So now we also have the opportunity to rest a bit between bop sessions. Is there a problem with that? Not for me.
5.0 out of 5 stars Your patience is rewarded (again) Nov. 1 2007
By John - Published on
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Many of my favorite albums are ones that when I first got them didn't do it for me. Much like Twin Cinema before it, Challengers seemed a bit of a disappointment compared to previous work by the New Pornographers. Once again, after enough listens, the New Pornographers have proven me wrong. Like Twin Cinema the disc just gets better and better with each listen. I had the pleasure of seeing the band live at the Variety Playhouse a couple of nights ago and songs like My Rights Versus Yours and Go Places really take off with the extra energy provided by a live setting. Neko Case is wonderful on discs but even better and more amazing live. This band (and specifically Carl Newman) are at the top of my list of recording artists and live performers today. Go places, places where you can see the New Pornographers play live, and do it quickly because you never how long something this good can last. The NP's have already defied the odds of most "supergroups".

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