Monday, September 20, 2004

week of Sept. 19-25

"The Science of Your Mind" - The Comas
This song begins with the unlikely but immediately appealing combination of a Middle Eastern synthesizer line topped by a jazzy acoustic guitar noodle, then churns without hesitation into a swift, minor-key tale of love gone sour. Along the way are some tasty finger-snaps, spy-movie bass riffs, echoey drumbeats, and a nifty guitar solo. What's more, even as the screed of a spurned lover (cliche-ridden territory to be sure), the song yields some intriguing lyrics--I especially like the second verse, where the rejectee offers a series of reverse blessings ("May your days be long and cold" etc.). All in all, an accomplished effort. "The Science of Your Mind" is the lead track on Conductor, the band's third album, released last month on Yep Roc Records; the MP3 is on the Yep Roc web site.

"Pelz Comet" - The Kingsbury Manx
This North Carolina band is channeling an elusive '60s vibe--not Pet Sounds-era Brian Wilson, as quite a number of indie outfits seem to be doing these days (not that there's anything wrong with that!), but some weird space in which early Pink Floyd and later Simon & Garfunkel dance to the same drummer, or at least acoustic guitarist. There is something timelessly hand-made and organic about this sound; if they are building on the past, they are creating their own structure, not just rearranging someone else's bricks, as it were. Notably more assertive than the band's previous TWF entry, the dreamy "Porchlight," this song has three distinct but interrelated sections. The first is driven by acoustic guitar riffs and is anchored by a simple, plaintive chorus ("Here I stand/Still waiting on you") that manages beyond expectation to stick in my head. The second section is instrumental, bringing in one electric guitar, and then two, for an intertwining series of snaky, perhaps even Beatle-y descending melody lines which establish a syncopated sort of presence only to dissolve into the third section: a piano-fueled, double-time coda. "Pelz Comet" comes from the band's third CD, Aztec Discipline, which emerged rather too quietly last October on Overcoat Recordings; the MP3 is on the band's web site.

"Nightly Cares" - Múm
So once and for all we should realize that Björk is not the only female singer in Iceland. Although when you first hear Kristín Anna Valtýsdóttir's whispery, baby-girl voice, you may wish she were. This voice is probably an acquired taste. The song is an acquired taste, maybe, as well--building with almost painful slowness at the beginning, a distant-foghorn-like synthesizer repeating, without hurry, over atmospheric background noises of one sort or another, also distant-sounding. It's a minute and a half before the song moves into the foreground, acquires a solid--if slow--beat, and then, careful, here comes Kristín Anna, in all her whispery glory. But the band works with the sonic fabric so attentively that over time, the voice somehow begins to make sense. For all the trip-hoppy clickings and clackings around the edges, the music here has a warm and human feel--the drums are real (you can hear the wire brushes), a muted trumpet and a melodica (!) trade licks along the way, and, if I'm not mistaken (although lord knows I could be), that's an actual bowed saw in the background adding to the spooky majesty. The song is from the band's third CD, Summer Make Good, which came out in May on Fat Cat Records. The MP3 is hosted on Indie Workshop.

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