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Tuesday, August 16, 2016
Wednesday, May 4, 2016
Made of Boxes on CD
Occupying that same intelligent, melodic indie rock space as Death Cab for Cutie and Arcade Fire, this Seattle quartet is definitely rainy day stuff in a more than geographical way. This eponymous album, their first full-length release after an EP named Alotau, focuses on feelings of loneliness and isolation in a way that neither panders nor seems especially maudlin. Perhaps that's because these four men aren't satisfied with staring out windows and sighing--their music is full of energy and liveliness that might suggest there's a solution to their ennui just around the corner.
Much of this propulsive foundation can be laid at the bass drum pedal of David Testa, who founded the band with guitarist David Chapaitis back in 2013. The focus on percussion is obvious throughout the album--starting off with that visceral kick drum during the album's opener ("Mountains"), Testa's drum kit is recorded with uncommon care, at least for an indie rock band's debut album. If these songs had been performed by a guy with an acoustic guitar and little more, the words "laying it on a bit thick" might come to mind. But the lively tempos and the sheer synergy between the members (which also includes John Hage on keyboards and bass and Luke Brown on guitar, with all four members sharing vocal credits) add another layer to the music that implies a wider range of emotions such as barely suppressed anger and an eagerness to break out of their rut.
I'm not saying the lyrics are overly sentimental on their own, not by a long shot. Take this stanza from "Raconteur":
I'm a color between the lines
Taken back to reality where seasons end and all has been arranged
Where there are love affairs with warfare and the beggars--
The beggars they howl
Oh I don't see things changing, no not on their own
Cause we're all just fucking broke
I think you might find this sentiment quite common at a Bernie Sanders rally--I think it captures the feeling of being young and part of a world that excludes the opinions and the concerns of the young. So if this band winds up going somewhere, you'll understand. They've really tapped into something here, and this is some of the best new music I've heard in a while.
Tuesday, March 1, 2016
Monday, February 15, 2016
Friday, February 5, 2016
Thursday, January 28, 2016
Monday, January 18, 2016
In Notes from Left of the Dial this week, Nooga.com spends some time with new music from Câlisse, Stranded Horse, My Golden Calf and Sparrows Gate. What have you been listening to this week?
It began, as many things do, with an introduction. Musicians James Collette and Morganfield Riley were both soundtracking different filmswhen they were introduced by a filmmaker friend. By the next Halloween, they were performing together. Drawing together some musical friends, Collette and Riley organized a cover of Neutral Milk Hotel's "In the Aeroplane Over the Sea," and these sessions went so well that when Collette announced he was recording a solo album, Riley volunteered to produce one of the songs. Their collaboration blossomed and grew to include other musicians, becoming the foundation for Câlisse. The group will release their debut record, "Farewell Black Sheep" on April 15.
On their new single, "Stay," the band creates a sound that feels drenched in the classic indie rock years of the early '90s but still manages to sound timely and timeless. The guitars are thick and sticky and are filled with ragged distortion and a fuzzed-out attitude. Buried beneath all the hiss and grit, though, is a churning melody that sticks to your brain and anchors the track while also lifting high into the upper atmosphere. It's catchy and hits you like a fist to the chest. It's rare that a band understands this contrast between loudness and melody so well, but Câlisse make this awareness seem nothing more than the next logical step. If "Stay" is any indication of what we're to expect from "Farewell Black Sheep," then April can't get here soon enough.
Tuesday, December 8, 2015
Friday, December 4, 2015
Friday, October 30, 2015
Who doesn't look better on MTV... excited to see the hard working ladies in ArtPeace get some well deserved love on a wonderful display of their music in this well done video
Tuesday, October 27, 2015
I have to admit that the cover of EagleWolfSnake's new CD looks like something you might find in a middle school art class, a rather generic wilderness portrait of the three eponymous creatures, apparently penned with a black Sharpie, against a white background. I try not to judge CDs or LPs by their covers, but this minimalist approach to marketing seems to suggest a trio of adolescents who have spent too much time in a garage pissing off the neighbors with folk metal. It's a genuine surprise that when you actually load ZANG! into your CD player, you hear something quite different than you expect, catchy and exuberant power pop that will remind you of Franz Ferdinand, Arctic Monkeys or even a touch of The Jam in their later years.
EagleWolfSnake turns out to be one of those trios that sound bigger than they are, much in the vein of The Police, with Nick Bray's layered and anthemic guitar sound, Eli Meyskens' solid and steady bass and Ryan Malley's super-energetic and dense drumming complementing the dense vocal harmonies from all three. (For the record, Malley is responsible for the cover drawing which really isn't that bad, although it might have been transferred from a cocktail napkin.) As a whole the band captures an early-to-mid-'80s sound that's wet with reverb and earnestness without scratching too deeply into the sheer angst of the indie rock that would dominate the scene over the next twenty years.
All eight tracks on ZANG!are, in the best pop tradition, exciting and brief and chock full of the energy that you might see during one of this San Francisco-based band's live performances. Only the closer, "Olivia," slows the proceedings down despite all the cheerful handclaps and playful guitar riffs. While there is a hidden layer to EWS' delivery, prompted perhaps by their previous incarnation as a soul quartet called Music for Animals, EWS is content to be danceable and singable. When your songs have titles like "We Are What We Are," "Whatever You Say," and "Do What You Want," it's best not to be too ponderous. ZANG! is light and fleeting, infused with a feeling that everything's gonna be okay.
If you actually dig the cover of ZANG!, here's some good news: you can buy a T-shirt from the band that immortalizes said image. It's all about the irony, I know. Forget about the cover, however, stick this CD in your car player and head on down the road. You'll come back home with a big, friendly smile on your face.