Monday, June 12, 2006

week of June 11-17

"Throw My Weight" - Samsa
An extraordinarily satisfying three minutes of power-trio British indie pop. The guitar rings out and drives forward with nicely interesting chords, the drum cuts a powerful and more than a little complex beat, and singer Oli Deakin (also the guitarist) has an unexpected richness to his voice, singing with an intriguing blend of forcefulness and fragility. The thing, to me, that nails this one down as truly memorable is the great, double-hooked chorus: first, the catchy simplicity of the "I run for cover/From one to another" part, with its diving then rising thirds, sounding at this point like some lost pop classic; and then, the killer twist as the chords modulate through a really gratifying couple of shifts, ringing guitar sirening away over the top of it all. Samsa is from Leeds, in the U.K.; it's Oli's brother Jamie throwing down the engaging drumbeats, while the bassist, Harry Wood, is a non-brother. "Throw My Weight" can be found on the band's first EP, called "First, The Lights," which was self-released last summer. The EP sold out; all three songs are now available as free downloads on the band's site.

"For Money or Love" - the Like Young
I don't know how these married couples manage to play in a band together (there are a number of them out there at this point), never mind be the only members in the band, never mind make good music, never mind stay married. But here's the Chicago-based duo who call themselves the Like Young doing all that with what sounds like great good energy to spare. This short, stomach-rumbling rocker has an incisive appeal to my ears, having a lot to do with the sturdiness of the melody and singer Joe Ziemba's pitch-perfect rough-rocker voice. When wife Amanda joins in for one lead vocal line in the chorus, this too seems perfect. While the overall ambiance is "garage," there's something more sensitive in the air here, despite the visceral beat and short simplicity of the tune. "For Money or Love" is a song from the band's third full-length CD Last Secrets, which was released last month on Polyvinyl Records. The MP3 comes from the band's site.

"The Friday of Our Lives" - Audiotransparent
Slow-burning and deeply atmospheric, "The Friday of Our Lives" mixes actual instruments and fuzzy noise with impressive deftness. Portishead leaps to mind as a reference point, but this is one of the few times I've heard a band that reminds me of Portishead without simply sounding pretty much exactly like them (only not as good). The male lead singer in this case (one Bart Looman) creates an immediately different aural palatte; so does the lack of overtly trip-hoppy touches (no record scratches or obvious samples in the beats, for instance). With its muted (and subsequently unmuted) trumpet, soft keyboards, and brushed drums, "The Friday of Our Lives" manages to carry itself almost like a torch song even as the megaphoned vocals and dissonant bray of background guitar effectively and engagingly deconstructs the ambiance. Audiotransparent is a quintet from the Netherlands; this song has been sitting around in the listening pile for a few months, slowly growing on me. It comes from the CD Nevland, released in September 2005 on Living Room Records, a Dutch label. The MP3 is via the band's clean and attractive web site. Thanks to to Getecho for the head's up, way back when.

No comments: