Home Is Where My House Is
Delightful zippy indie pop!
One cant fault Shawn Rosenblatt for being happy! He has come across a wonderful formula for songwriting, so let him milk it all the way to the top!
On “Nunya (beeswax)” layers of percussion and party vocals convince the listener to celebrate and we build slowly to gleeful climax. LFO synthesizers compliment jangly guitars and constant tempo changes. Sound effects and zappers join acoustic guitars and pitch shifted delayed sounds to a whispered lullaby ending. It’s almost hard to call this a “song” but its certainly a wonderful way to start an EP.
The strongest song is “Stop Smoking A$$hold, Cigarettes” He tells us a familiar story about falling in love with unpretentious methods. ” I just want to take you out for some indian food and learn what you’re all about. Let’s listen to records while we lay on the floor. I wish falling for you didn’t hurt anymore.” Who wouldn’t want to have an affair with this guy?
“Tac Tac” is another catchy number, accordion and female vocals bring an enjoyable lightness to the composition. We hear a choir and glockenspiel pleasantly bopping along and cannot help but bob our heads. He delivers with impeccably chill lightness lines like, “you live with your parents on their inheritance. you spell the words you cannot say to me, Y-O-U C-A-N-T S-I-N-G”
In “Cory Kennedy Sings the Blues,” Shawn gets truly philosophical and abstract.
“Fashion trends and music trends and it never ends, I’m going to stay at home and never talk shit about anyone, I’ll make some friends and I’ll lose some friends and I’ll make new friends.” He meditates on experience, is he talking about the indie DIY music scene? Cinematography or buddhist meditation? Does it matter? Its a song, its a chant, its a philosophy, its an anthem. “Its all image and sound, image and sound.”
He reminds me of Sufjan Stevens and Harlem Shakes. Others have compared him to Animal Collective, but I gotta say, he’s much more “listenable” and intimate. Keep going, Shawn! And catch him live if you can!
God SIN EP
Dancy,fancy shmancy disco punk
Seattle’s God has released their first EP, a fun and strange collection of songs they call “SIN EP.” “No.No.No.Yes.Yes.” starts things off with frenetic disco punk rhythms, a catchy guitar and poppy vocal delivered with snotty enthusiasm by Ian Lesage.
It isn’t until 1:34 that we hear the strings come in, courtesy of cellist Tracy.
“I love love this generation, we got the best music, we got the best clothes,” Ian mocks, crocodile tears pouring from his eyes. A common theme in his music is deriding hipsters and trendy music fans.
There are moments of tenderness with only a glockenspiel and vocals, but they last only for a brief moment.
“How can we think that we are the best thing to ever come?”
“How Many Sleepers” almost sounds like a Radiohead b-side. Demonstrating some influence from Yes or Genesis? Is that a mellotron choir sample in there? Maybe Ian is mocking the 70s as well.
“Here’s my best shit: eat it!” ” The meaning is lost on you all!” are some more examples of these vitrolic lyrics that Ian flings at his listener.
“Spreading at the Legs of Cancer” is my favorite, the cello is really important in the mix and plays interesting textures, the lyric hook is even pleasantly catchy!
“recycle. rinse. repeat. end.” Is much more relaxed and spacey than the others. Delayed drum machines and synthesizers set up a spacey mood while icy cold guitars creep in. Here Ian finally relaxes his voice and sings in a gentle whisper.”Read directions, take instructions, tear apart this broken future.
“Anti Robotics” has hints of a narrative, maybe a future cd could be a concept album with a plot and characters? The dramatic delivery and instrumentation would lend itself towards that. “She’s smarter than me, she works in a lab.” Here, multiple layers of strings and synths provide a welcome, near shoegazer sound, but the vocals are firmly in the punk tradition, they couldn’t have been delivered with anything less than a Messerschmit grimace, the vocalist about to pass out from exhaustion.
The result is an engaging album with varied moods, the lyrics can feel excessively preachy sometimes, but we all like to hate hipsters… as long as he isn’t talking about us! That is the trouble with such lyrics, how to know how the audience will interpret them… listeners may find themselves asking, “is he talking about me, or the people I dislike?” I usually prefer to hear music where the vocalist has an optimistic message, but a little sardonic humor and anhedonia have its place sometimes. If you listen to just one angry album this year, make it SIN EP from GOD.
Lorraine Leckie and her Demons.
Four Cold Angels
New York City, NY
Lorraine has a dry delivery, encouraging the listener to crime on “Getaway Car” seem inviting and eerie.
Rambling country guitar from Hugh Pool, and a pleasant shuffle from Paul Triff make “Four Cold Angels” a fun ride. On “Drivin” she asks, “how good can a woman feel?” But it isn’t clear if she’s asking “how much pleasure can I experience?” or asking a potential lover, “how nice would it be to have a woman’s touch tonight?”
That kind of lyrical ambiguity, along with delightful synesthesia such as describing the taste of the Ontario sky make this a poetic album you will want to come back to repeatedly.
On “Ontario” she allows her band to kick it up a notch, delivering a truly rocking track with some of the best lyrics on the album and the most exciting guitar dexterity. We all have some nostalgia for our home towns for sculpting us into the personalities we display, she sums it up well with lyrics such as, “you learn to be humble in Ontario, you learn not to stumble in Ontario.”
Her style, mixing country and indie brings to mind the Cowboy Junkies and Liz Phair.
This Austin three piece tours all over the states and keeps churning out hits. I wish they would come to Alaska and share their special recipe for musical thrills with us.
The catchiest track is “Paints A Yates,” “buy a smoke and bottle, get my man and go” is a great hook, and Jenny Parrot’s cheerful, friendly voice is warm and appealing. She makes you want to jump in a car with her and speed off, commitments be damned! Or should it be a horse drawn carriage?
Shotgun Party’s short pleasant pop sensibility nods to great songwriters like Patsy Cline and Sam Cooke. Stanly Smith’s clarinet on “Run n Hide” adds an impeccable class and Jenny’s delivery is confident, she is unafraid to break a note over her knee. “Y Yo” has a different feel than the others, a wistful, mournful delivery and staccato bursts of energy. Confident stand-up bass from Chris Crepps keeps energy high and the songs moving forward. “The Builder” is another stand out track, full of hooks and pleasant choir “aaahs.” “Canned Peaches” is smokin’ hot, with a few lyrics that make you ask, “did she really say that?” “now I’m making syrup on their thighs.” I’m not sure what that means, but it makes me feel a little dirty.
“Star Song” is also filled with joyful hooks, the energy of a Texas honky tonk meets the optimism of a children’s song. “I was a star, and I will be a star again.” You’ll be singing it to yourself, mark my words.
Katy Rose Cox’s violin is absolutely screaming! “Moonlight” is a familiar cover, but with the frenetic fiddle it sounds like a new song. There is a fun and unpredictable fiddle solo on every one of these songs. She plays faster than a hummingbird flaps its wings on “Draggin the Bow.” “Tanya” has some tango-like passion, and we are fortunate they decided there was room for these violin-focus tracks on the album.
The combination of Jenny’s personality, her pop sensibility and the dynamics of Katy Rose’s fiddle make this a top notch record: an improvement over their last, and a must for fans of original country and western swing. The 17 songs never seem like too many, you just want the album to go on and on.
The Fools, Lost and Found
New York, NY
Recorded by Cliff Kaplan and Misha Volf at Hart Studios and live at the Bowery Poetry Club.
Brief, lovingly crafted, insightful songs about people and feelings.
Honesty, integrity, and a loving tone. I feel like I trust the vocalist that everything she tells me is true. Jen Tobin’s vocals and guitar are joined by lively bass from Uchenna Bright, and occasional samples such as an alarm clock and sounds of a beach.
I was surprised to hear drums, as I have heard this band several times and never seen them play with a live drummer. The drums may be mixed a little too loudly, as they overshadow Jen’s vocals on the first track.
“The Dream” is the longest song here, most fall under 2 minutes. Here the mix is perfect, a delightful gentle pop bass line fulfills the collusion between ambiance and mood- guitar and vocals have a generous touch of reverb, and the lyrical message is delivered impeccably.
“Oh Darlin”, is another great song they choose to put in the conclusion. Not the Beatles song, but an underscored poetic little ditty.
These songs are so not “in your face,” they are never intense or immature, but they are totally immediate and relevant. This is a true “alternative” music, a music that doesn’t pretend to be more than it is or try to indoctrinate or convert the listener. The songs succeed completely and on their own terms, with a charm and inventiveness that’s completely unique.
“The pillows on your bed are getting in my way, so let’s break our hearts just to do it.” Maybe this lyric encapsulates Jen’s attitude towards love, and even songwriting, maybe not. But when your lying back in a grassy field, listening to The Fools on your head phones and daydreaming about love, who can blame you for being idealistic?
The Moon Knights
One Must Die
More joyful cacophony from Anchorage
Spiral Song starts the album off with a bouncy drum beat and lazy vocals. “I love you so much that my skull makes weird sounds.” Lester croons unusual lyrics with a familiar melody.
As on previous albums, Julie and Lester trade duties on lead vocals, but their style has merged due to each other’s influence, and it isn’t always clear who it is who sings. Both sing through overdrive pedals, providing a trebly bullhorn effect. Drums and guitar combine in perfect smashing disharmony.
There isn’t much saxophone from Ted on here, though he is an essential part of the live show. Adrian’s drumming has improved remarkably since the band began. “Blood Box” has some beatnik appeal, with busy bass, and half spoken vocals, reminding me of the weirder early tracks from They Might Be Giants albums.
“Skin” is a farewell to good friend, the most tender of the album.
“Believe My Love” is my favorite track, with bending guitar chords, and coquettish vocals from Julie. She murmurs “I’m just so angry all the time.” Is she singing from the perspective of a girl at 6 years old? a pre teen? or an adult who has an axe to grind? it isn’t clear, but it also isn’t important. Nothing is important: nothing that is, except downloading the Moon Knights new album and pumping it on your car stereo in between petty acts of vandalism.
Reccommended for fans of Parenthetical Girls, Xiu Xiu, Bikini Kill, Be Your Own Pet, The Velvet Underground.
This album is available free at: