"The Sun and Earth" - Middle Distance Runner
Drumming plays a tricky role in rock. Without drums, there's no rock to be had. You need them. But you also don't really want to notice them. Because there's almost no difference between noticeable and too noticeable when it comes to drums, and once they're too noticeable, the song doesn't have much of a chance.
One of the reasons I like "The Sun and Earth" so much is because drummer Erik Dean (also one of the band's founders and songwriters) has found a way to give the drums a defining place within the song without overwhelming the sound. It's pretty much all tom-toms here, which is one way to move the sound down in the mix--you notice it more in your gut than in your head. That singer Stephen Kilroy has such an appealing and elastic tenor helps, also, keep the drums in the background, where they belong, even as they remain simultaneously central to the developing vibe. When the pleasing, tumbling tom-toms stop entirely for the quiet bridge at 2:39, and the narrator expresses his bewilderment at being left by a lover, he surely does sound awfully alone.
Middle Distance Runner is a quintet from Washington, D.C. that may now actually be a quartet (available information appears contradictory at this point). They were featured once before on Fingertips, in March 2007. As noted at the time, these guys put forth a jokey front (check out their web site's FAQ, for example) but if they are smart enough to know that the Earth is in fact closer to the Sun in the winter (at least in the Northern Hemisphere), and then to use this as a viable metaphor in a song, then they're not nearly as dumb as they look, as it were. "The Sun and Earth" is a song from the band's EP (called, it seems, EP), which was self-released in the fall, but getting a renewed push as the band hits the road this spring. Thanks to Filter for the head's up.