A swirling mÈlange of sonically expansive country and shoegazing blues, or maybe just good-old roadhouse reverb. Whatever you want to call it, it’s music to these weary ears.
Perhaps the fact that evening have been making music together since the mid-’90s is what makes their full-length debut sound so accomplished. Whatever it is, the massive, spiraling guitars and otherwise hook-laden discontent magically conjure that Radiohead-esque penchant for accessible experimentality without aping the Oxford lads.
Adam Pierce once again takes the bedroom dweller aesthetic more as a spiritual guide than a sonic one: skittish percussion bounces off the walls like random thoughts and warm vibes and synthesizers fill the background while his ever-gentle acoustic guitar seemingly plays for an audience of one.
Banhart’s voice and eerie gaze only add to the fragility of the song. “The Body Breaks” is hardly a pick-me-up, but it’s good to hear a songwriter with genuine eccentricity freely create something that nobody else can.
The Velvet Teen have always been cool about sharing their deepest discontents, and it turns out the secret ain’t the riffs. On these lilting new tracks they nearly forgo guitars completely and opt for a baby grand just shy of overblown that helps Judah Nagler get in touch with his inner torch singer and they replace the riffs with a string section that gives “precious” a good name. But don’t worry, those signature keyboards and rhythms still sparkle like a sky full of shooting stars.
While Liz Phair’s spent the new century embedded in VH1’s Culture Vultureplex, Mirah’s been embedded in evergreen indieland (that’s Olympia, Washington) making sweet and musically adventurous paeans to relationships, politics, and many of the other things that make us think about more than our cholesterol. “Jerusalem” is the only new track here, but it’s worth downloading the others to see how easy it is to fall in love with a singer whose mind is as irresistible as her disarmingly delicate voice.
Even when The New Year keep themselves from cathartic explosions of guitar and drums, they still seem very close to losing it. Here’s hoping you woke up on the wrong side of the bed today and have been looking for the proper soundtrack to fit your mood.
“Nostalgia” has always been the phrase at the heart of what could be called the entertainment equivalent of conservatism, i.e., it’s a dangerous reaffirmation of not just the status quo but of “the way things used to be.” Yet I just can’t fight that good ol’ feeling Spiraling gives me: classic keyboard melodics, arena-rocking riffs and cymbals — heck, there’s even an organ in there. Tom Brislin knows his history, that’s for sure, but I’m ready to throw down with anyone who tries to call these tracks, as much as they’ll make you think of the glory days of new wave, anything but the new new thing.
If the thought of Jeff Buckley fronting The Promise Ring gives you the good kind of goosebumps, then The Honorary Title is worth your download time — even if you’re on dial-up. Jarrod Gorbel has the vocal acuity of the late-great Buckley and a Rufus Wainwright-esque flair for drama that both merges with and hovers above the bounce and retreat of Aaron Kamstra’s lovely arrangements. Go ahead and sing along silently.
If you’re still searching for a summer single, you won’t do much better than “Holiday,” an emphatic anthem with a pinch of despair that is the perfect male answer to the Go Go’s “Vacation.” There are a couple more pop gumballs from these Minneapolis jogging suit aficionados that’ll make you want to rock the Slip’n’Slide until mom makes you go inside and eat your fish sticks and tater tots.