THIS WEEK'S FINDS
week of Mar. 26-Apr. 1
"5 Verses" - Jeremy Warmsley
One part noodly-introspective bedroom rock, one part expansive pure pop, knitted together with fuzzy 21st-century beats, "Five Verses" wins me over more for its unfettered vitality and than for its closely-told boy-meets-girl story. (I'll readily admit that I had to get past the "They met in a karoake bar..." opening; and yet I like to think that the singer/songwriter is more or less daring us to stick with him after that one.) Warmsley is a half-French, half-English troubadour, based in London, with a winning mixture of humility and cheek; his web site tells us that he "makes electronica with songs in them," which is as brilliant a self-description as I've seen from a musician in quite a while. For me it's the great swooping melody that rules this one--the steady dip down, the giddy leap up at the end of a couple of lines in each verse. And don't miss the wacky little wordless bridge in the middle (around 1:40)--it's literally an "ooh" and an "ahh" but what a great chord change that is. The song comes from Warmsley's 5 Interesting Lies EP, released in November on Transgressive Records in the U.K. The MP3 is available via his site, thanks to a head's up from Hedvika at the excellent Echo blog.
"In the Beginning" - the Stills
An exceedingly likable and well put-together song from this fine Montreal band. First we get one itchy electric guitar scratching out a gallopy one-two beat, the inherent tension of the sound accentuated by the background happenings--shimmery cymbals marking the beat while keyboards and guitars gather, seem ready to burst forward yet holding back in a drone-y, almost tuning-up sort of way. Then, at 0:39, bam: we get a focused, quickly memorable instrumental melody, the song now crackling with a great, swelling energy that I'm tempted to call "wholesome" for reasons I can't quite pinpoint (perhaps because it sounds so organic, owing more somehow to folk music than rock'n'roll). I am particularly smitten with the section that links the verse to the simple chorus: first heard at 1:26, it couples the percussive guitar of the intro to a melody so friendly it's actually rather inspiring; listen for the Hammond organ flourishes that add to the chewy texture. Note too how the false ending leads to an "outro" that nicely mirrors the intro. "In the Beginning" will appear on the Stills' forthcoming CD Without Feathers, due for release in early May on Vice Records. The MP3 comes courtesy of Vice.
"Love Revolution" - All Mighty Whispers
Another song with a vibe at once friendly and polished, this one wrapping itself in an ineffable sort of groovy-'60s wash: the effortless melody, the bassline hook, the head-bobbingly agreeable beat (complete with real drums), and the busy but unidentifiable background fill combine to ooze an unbearable nostalgia for a past that never quite existed. On top of it all comes singer Peter Hill's voice, a pleasantly reedy instrument given a wonderful double-tracked substance that helps make "Love Revolution" sound both as light as air and as solid as a big comfy chair. I can't always identify a producer's impact--and often his or her job is to sound like no one was producing it at all--but in this case I tip my metaphorical hat in the direction of Grzegorz Czachor, the Polish producer enlisted to create this spiffy piece of expert pop, and to the Norwich (U.K.) trio behind the music for enlisting him. "Love Revolution" is the title track of the band's self-titled debut CD, released in Februrary. The MP3 is available via the band's site.