May 6, 2010
There’s a special place in my heart for bands like Elephant Parade; that is, bands that are sort of innocuous and unselfconsciously adorable. Those more callous than myself could probably sum up this record’s cuteness by using their index finger to gag themselves. Okay, perhaps that’s an acceptable reaction, especially if one considers the following lyrics, from “For You”: “I like you / You don’t make me cry / I like you / You always make me smile.” As far as I can tell this is delivered without irony or sarcasm. To me, that’s one of the main reasons this record is enjoyable.
It’s a short record, clocking in at about 22 minutes, and as evidenced by the aforementioned lyrics, it’s relatively harmless. They sound like a stripped-down version of Camera Obscura or Au Revoir Simone. It’s an acoustic record, male and female harmonies, with a lo-fi sound to match its title, Bedroom Recordings. The track “Boat Song” shows the band’s potential beyond simple acoustic songs, featuring a beautiful, floaty keyboard arrangement and a breathy melody; I wish the entire record was closer to this sound.
Like a lot of decent pop music, their songs are shallow enough that enjoyment of them beyond the few first listens is contingent on the positive experiences which the songs accompany. I also imagine that one or two of these tracks could nicely round out a mix tape.
by Joe Veix
April 22, 2010
2010 | Captured Tracks
The May 25th release date for Brooklyn-based Beach Fossils‘ debut LP is more than apt. The record sounds like summer, so why not send it public on Memorial Day Weekend?
It’s a short record, and each track blends into the next. It’s difficult to distinguish them from each other. If there has to be a standout track on this record — and I’m hard pressed to find one, as the whole album sounds fairly cohesive — it’s likely “Youth,” where the vocal melody echoes beautifully, coasting along the surface of ringing, reverb-soaked guitars. The lyrics, unsurprisingly, are relatively ambivalent, “I don’t know just what I feel / But I feel it all tonight.”
December 10, 2009
2009 | Dedpop
A newer band’s initial EPs are tasting plates, of sorts; ideally, they’ve created a sampling of their style and potential, of which they’ll elaborate the better parts in their subsequent, more comprehensive LPs. Connecticut’s Bluebird Handwriting claims the usual suspects as influences (their MySpace account lists Radiohead and Sonic Youth), but it’s with Aphex Twin, Boards of Canada, M83, and My Bloody Valentine that they share the most in common. Though these comparisons are lofty and divergent, Bluebird manages to meet them.
They have the spastic rhythmic flourishes of Aphex Twin; the subdued industrial simplicity of Boards of Canada; the brash keyboards of M83, with all of their romantic undertones; and the static dreamscape of My Bloody Valentine. Some of it holds up, and some of it doesn’t; one can’t really fault a band too much for this so early in their career.
The Tortulous EP is at its best during its more ruminative, ambient moments. It’s at its weakest when it attempts Aphex Twin and the louder side of M83; these sounds are dated, and can’t be sustained by any amount of revision or nostalgia. Considering what they get right, though, Bluebird Handwriting manages the rare ability of making the most simple arrangements resonate, with little need to dress up their sound in overwrought production or theatrics.
Bluebird Handwriting’s best moment is at the end of “It Is Broken Soon:” the song hardly moves beyond its simple theme and metronomic beat, before the rhythm drops out and we have just the keyboard hook. It’s a great moment, conveying the bittersweet sound of an orchestra leaving the stage after a beautiful performance, or the temporal escape from the shortest day of winter. They’re most definitely a band to check out.
You can download Tortulous for free here.
Bluebird Handwriting – “It is Broken Soon”
by Joe Veix
November 13, 2009
It Will Be OK
2009 | Etch n Sketch
Brooklyn band Home Video released the follow-up to their first record, No Certain Night Or Morning, last January. The EP is called It Will Be OK, and continues the electronica/rock sound that they helped establish in the early 2000s, long after other bands with lighter stomachs abandoned the genre for newer trends.
It Will Be OK is softer than their previous LP, and aims for subtler electronic beats. It’s possible that the band is more confident in their sound, and feels less of a need to pound out a heavy backbeat to get a crowd on their feet at live shows. Despite the somewhat softer sound, the EP is very much danceable, and will likely be a joy to hear live [Editor’s Note: It was. Look forward to our write-up of Home Video playing the JM Monthly Feature Show].
The standout track on the EP is “Every Love That Ever Was,” which begins with what sounds like a nod to the sequencer in the Who’s “Eminence Front,” before snapping into an inspiring take on M83. Certainly, one cannot avoid making a comparison to Radiohead; the vocals are deeply and unashamedly in debt to Thom Yorke. And at this point, more than a decade after Radiohead’s first groundbreaking release (1997’s OK Computer), comparisons to the band should only be used to describe what another band is doing right, rather than to demonstrate a lack of originality, as was previously the case with these comparisons.
Overall, the EP is worth a listen, perfectly suitable for the slowly approaching winter malaise.
by Joe Veix
Home Video is our November Feature Artist. Read our interview with them here.
JezebelMusic.com @ The Bell House
August 8, 2009 | Harvey Danger, Jukebox the Ghost, Valley Lodge
Last Saturday The Bell House in Gowanus, Brooklyn, hosted the second show of Harvey Danger’s six-stop farewell tour. It was one of those rare existential crisis-inspiring shows that makes one wary of the ageist nature of rock music and the fickleness of pop. It was a show that ultimately inspired a sort of optimistic and perhaps obvious understanding that the real impact of a band isn’t the amount of records sold (or the popularity of a single), but its meaningful influence on a small number of people.
The opener, Valley Lodge, had a ’90s-inspired sound that was remarkably appropriate for the occasion. The band blasted into the song “Every Little Thing”, which sounded like the slacker side of Dinosaur Jr., or a loving tribute to the Old 97’s. Lodge is a project of the writer/comedian/UCB regular Dave Hill, who introduced each song as one of their “greatest hits,” and shredded his fair share of guitar solos. The band is a treat to watch, and I recommend that everyone in the New York area check them out.
More on Harvey Danger, Jukebox the Ghost, Valley Lodge @ The Bell House | 8.8.09