Deerhoof called its new album “La Isla Bonita”—the beautiful island —and included a song called “Tiny Bubbles.” No, it’s not the song made famous by Hawaiian lounge lord Don Ho. It sounds more like an Ennio Morricone spaghetti Western theme. But 20 years into a career, with a dozen albums and scores of side projects, is Deerhoof trying to show it has a sense of humor?
Whatever is going on, it’s a winning turn. Deerhoof has previously made music often associated with the sounds of the German Krautrock movement of the ‘70s, or of early Sonic Youth —a bit cold, perhaps, and certainly very art-conscious. It’s been cited by such innovators as St. Vincent, Tune-Yards and even Flaming Lips as an influence, but has not gained the kind of renown of those followers.
The spark behind “La Isla Bonita,” though, was a whole other aesthetic: That of the Ramones. Deerhoof has covered “Pinhead” in concert regularly over the years. This time it really took hold, at least in approach.