Archive for January 2011
I thought this was something else (Bird and the Bee — ha), but that’s OK, because it’s still synthy enough to keep me happy. They’re from San Francisco, so maybe I saw them play a show somewhere.
The sound is a bit like Rilo Kiley, but with dudes, with some Talking Heads thrown in. And keyboards. Maybe this is what progressive rock is. Prog-agly.
“Strange Kind of Mirror” sounds like Wallflowers, or at least Jakob Dylan. It’s fun on a sunny afternoon. “Another Inferno” is pretty hot. “The Machine & the Vampire” is metaphorical, but don’t ask me how. It also is a bit of a departure from the alt-country sound the rest of the record has.
I like “The Villain” because it has some ’80s-era horns in it. I feel as if I am watching an episode of “Moonlighting.” The synths reclaim center stage on “Some Hypnotic Flash” and send the album off into the sunset. Although not something I generally hone in on, this should give the kids from Memphis something hip to listen to.
I’ve been hearing about this band for almost 20 years, but I’ve never actually heard them. Like the Replacements, they seem to have always been on the cusp of recognition but instead have likely been relegated to working at Philz.
“People” sounds like the theme to a TV show. Like if Becky and Darlene from Roseanne had a spinoff in which they create a rock band called Mika Miko. This would be the theme. “I Hung My Harp Upon the Willows” sings about a guy named Richard Brown, so maybe it is about the old anchor for Channel 7 news. You never know, right?
“Should I Pray” features Carly Simon on vocals, a pleasant surprise if you weren’t expecting it. Frank Reader is so vain. He probably thought this song was about him. “The Engine” sounds like a Coldplay song that doesn’t suck. It was bound to happen, but who knew that it would be Trashcan Sinatras that would have to do it?
The last eight tracks are live versions of more of their songs. “Send for Henny” has Eddi Reader on vocals, and my thinking is that it must be Frank’s wife. Maybe Henny is their dog. “Easy Read” is kind of neat because the lead singer rolls his R’s.
A fun CD to experiment with, because they’re all pretty good.
I reviewed their “The Man Is Dead” EP, and now I get to review this EP. The sound has definitely matured in 18 months. The lead singer sounds more like Karen O, but the music still has a more Kate Bush feel. The mixing is a lot better as well.
The title track is first, and the five-plus minutes zoom right by. Most of the songs on this EP are about a minute longer, for that matter, than on “The Man Is Dead.”
“Mace Spray” is mixed really well, and the backing vocals are at the perfect level. The Kate Bush style is most prevalent here. It’s a winner. “Sahara Mahala” has nothing to do with Las Vegas, but that’s OK. This one incorporates the piano that was prevalent on some of their other efforts. The louder drums almost make this a rock song, yet still good in its own way.
“A Little Piece” is the weakest song but still good. This band has really turned it around. The drums remind me of Smashing Pumpkins. Really, there is a lot of mid-’90s inspiration on this one. “She’s So Hard” is the last track, and “so” is capitalized because it’s an adverb. The song is fine, even if it’s a little slow. I bet Rihanna could cover this and sell 3 million downloads.
I call this music “modern classical.” It takes a traditional sound and adds early 1980s synths. For me, life doesn’t get any better. The only vocals are samples for the most part. “I am coming for my things” is an evocative title, after viewing pictures of the group. I picture one of them sending an email to their newest ex, with that song title as the subject line. And she stops by, and you give her her pillow with the leaves on it and that second-season DVD of 30 Rock that you never got around to watching.
“Like a Miracle” sounds like music from an EA game, but don’t interpret that as harsh criticism. I could build SimCity cities and watch my Sims grow up while listening to this very easily. It’s absolutely fascinating to listen to.
The songs all provide the same entertainment value. “India Whiskey” at the end is also slightly better and belongs perhaps in Zynga’s latest, CityVille. Great for a bed or for playing straight up.
This is why bands should not release records in the fall. This would have easily made my Top 10 of 2010, but I didn’t see this one until today. Now it’s not on the top anything of anything.
For those who won’t admit they had a gothic phase in their life, they can secretly listen to “Set Your Arms Down” and pretend they’ve never heard that music before. “Undertow” is not a cover but still a good song.
“Shadows” is half Siouxsie and the Banshees, half Switchblade Symphony. I guess that’s like saying “half butter, half margarine,” though. “Baby” is the best of the lot. It doesn’t have any darkwave gimmicks like some of the other songs. Tanya Donelly leading for the Sundays would give you this result. Azure Ray wishes they could be this good.
“Lissie’s Heart Murmur” is the last track. The vocals were mixed a little unevenly, but it’s OK. These songs are all really long, but it’s fine, because they’re all really good.
After reviewiing the “Moths” EP, I figured I would grab this one. And iTunes liked it so much that it ripped it twice. It’s a mystery how that happened. At any rate, this is more power pop from these Canadians.
“Last Train From London” is a great leadoff track and lets you know straightaway what to expect. Some of these songs sound like Snow Patrol, except they don’t suck. Others sound like Death Cab for Cutie. It’s actually easier to review something when it sounds like other stuff, so kudos.
“Everything They Know About Us” is a bit more of a Britpop flair to it. The cat on the back of the album art probably loves to lick its ass when it hears this one. Salteens have a bit of a modern Better Than Ezra feel at times as well.
“Hallowed Ways” is the best track on the record. Even your parents should like this one, but that’s no reason you can’t as well. If you want a track with a woman singing, go with “Savings and Loans.”
Only a goon could not like “Go On.” The last track is a wonderfully crafted ballad, “Don’t Break My Heart.” A track that could only go at the end, the piano offsets the vocalist nicely and makes you want to go on a road movie to Berlin.