THIS WEEK'S FINDS
week of Feb. 11-17
"Every One of Us" - Goldrush
We don't seem at a loss here in the still-young year for brilliant, glistening rock songs. Here's another, from the fine British band Goldrush. I love how the guitars add texture and tension to the song's galloping beat, both the wavery synth-y line that arches like a siren above and the waves of skittery feedback-like chords that fade in and out below. But maybe the best thing on display here is Robin Bennett's voice, which I find deeply affecting--a rubbery and slightly trembly tenor that at certain moments bring Ray Davies to mind (as, happily, do the melodies). And please listen to the words, which start out poignant and then turn transcendent, as the song makes that rare, exceptional link between the socio-political and the interpersonal. What begins as a moving statement on 21st-century alienation gains depth and spirit as the perspective angles in on a single human heart: "And if nothing is the way that it was/ Well there's one thing you can be sure of, because/ We are not the way that we were/ She will forget about you/ So forget about her." The title phrase proceeds to assume two competing, plaintive meanings. Nice nice work. "Every One of Us" is a song from the band's new CD, The Heart is the Place, which is set for release next week in the U.K. on Truck Records, an impressively robust label run by Bennett and his brother Joe, who is also in Goldrush. The CD has been out since mid-January on City Slang, the band's German label. No word yet on a U.S. release date. The MP3 is available via City Slang.
"City Morning Song" - Sarah Shannon
With its sunny, late-'60s/early-'70s swing and bright-eyed production, "City Morning Song" has seemingly little to do with the noise pop favored by Shannon as lead singer of the mid-'90s band Velocity Girl. And yet, what, to my ears, made that band's fuzzy, atmospheric music work so well was Shannon's airy voice floating above the busy, churning din. Remove the busy, churning din and here's her airy voice, set free in a vastly different musical landscape, in which we can now hear its attractive, meatier, Laura Nyro-ish-ness, especially in her lower register. Loving reverberations from a bygone era suffuse this snappy little number: the sly time-signature stutter that perks up the piano chord section introducing and anchoring the song; the piano itself, all guileless chords and happy rhythm; and, but of course, the trumpet--emerging in the background at 1:10, and you don't quite hear it, but hear it enough to make the short solo (1:42) smilingly inevitable. (Burt Bacharach, at least, would be smiling.) Shannon clearly feels at home here--City Morning Song is her second solo CD, and her previous effort, a self-titled album in 2002, found her likewise reveling predominantly in a '70s-flavored land of horns, keyboards, and evocative rhythms. City Morning Song was released last week on the Chicago-based Minty Fresh Records; the MP3 is via the Minty Fresh site.
"Advice for Young Mothers to Be" - the Veils
Based charmingly, if unexpectedly, upon classic doo-wop chords and melodies, this song has a mysterious appeal that I'm still trying to figure out. I like, to begin with, when songs are simultaneously accessible and weird. And yes, I have to say that the sound of a young indie band singing anything that sounds remotely like doo-wop is immediately odd--but, also, resoundingly familiar because of the time-honored musical setting. So, there: accessible and weird. And the accessible weirdnesses thereafter pile on, from Finn Andrews' quavery, croon-y baritone to the lilting, semi-reggae-ish shuffle this comes wrapped in to the inscrutable lyrics and indirect Smiths-like vibe--I can't put my finger on that one precisely because Andrews doesn't really sound like Morrissey but there's something in, maybe, his delivery that does the trick: try when he sings "The friends who care still call you on the phone" (1:18) or the words in the chorus "Your advice for young mothers to be/ Will never find the words, darling believe me" and see if you can't hear it. "Advice for Young Mothers to Be" is from the Veils' second CD, Nux Vomica, which was released in the U.K. last fall on Rough Trade Records, and is scheduled for a U.S. release in April on Great Society Records. Andrews, by the way, is son of Barry Andrews, once of XTC and later of Shriekback. Based in New Zealand, the Veils are now a trio; they were a quartet on their first CD, The Runaway Found (2004), and everyone but Andrews from that incarnation is gone.