Fingertips Music Guide to betterPropaganda: August '06
1) "This Life" - La Rocca
The wide-open energy of this song is infectious, from the comfy piano stomp of the introduction through the sing-along chorus. This young mostly Irish band will bring some inevitable early-U2 comparisons, both for the country of origin and for singer/guitartist Bjorn Baillie's semi-resemblance to a young Bono. But I also hear a deep-seated, rather un-U2-like awareness of down-and-dirty classic rock, as well as a poignant sort of introspection underlying the brash sound. In any case, an impressive debut.
check out a more detailed review on Fingertips: www.fingertipsmusic.com/this_weeks_finds.htm#LaRocca
2) "To Go Home" - M. Ward
Smart, sharp, and exceedingly well put together, "To Go Home" presents the formerly sleepy-voiced M. Ward in an appealingly band-like and energetic setting. With their rousing wall of acoustic sound, spacious drumbeats, and next-room piano chords, the opening measures have me smiling before anyone even starts singing. When M. opens his mouth 45 seconds in, his roughed-up, reverbed-up voice glowing with spirit and depth, I'm on board completely. Listen too for the great Neko Case, singing backup in the chorus.
check out a more detailed review on Fingertips: www.fingertipsmusic.com/this_weeks_finds.htm#MWard
3) "Disappear" - My Brightest Diamond
The oddly alluring songs composed and performed by Shara Worden, doing musical business as My Brightest Diamond, remind me of the work of a young Kate Bush, with their melodic swoops, cinematic flourishes, and vocal tics. "Disappear" clicks along at a leisurely pace, Worden's lovely, somewhat fluttery voice singing against an idiosyncratic buffet of percussion and strings. Be sure to notice the chord changes, alternately gorgeous and jarring.
4) "Do the Coup D'etat" - Hot One
Not for the faint of heart, "Do the Coup D'etat" is one hard-nosed bit of funky social protest. I don't spend much time with musical genres that sacrifice melody for groove, but this tune wins me over with its indelible chorus: the juxtaposition of those party-down harmonies and a brash political message, and the sneaky-great way the syllables scan across the measures. The slashy-slicey guitars ain't bad either.
5) "Hell=Other People" - Bettie Serveert
I find Carol van Dyk such an engaging singer that I'll forgive the copping of Billy Bragg's "A New England" because I still love being wrapped up in her voice. Also it's kinda cute to have set Jean-Paul Sartre's bleak aphorism to this peppy bit of bittersweet pop, an insistent piano riff driving things along like an unscratchable itch. And cool that this Dutch outfit, one of indie rock's very first break-out bands, is still up and running; the scene tends distressingly towards the disposal of everything more than a year or so old, which can't be good.