St. Vincent has stepped out way beyond the shadows of her Sufjan Stevens/Polyphonic Spree guitar playing/background vocal gigs. “The Stranger” is the first taste of what’s to come from her sophomore album. She has this element of fantasy in her music that combined with her sultry-crooner vocals might give the impression of a lounge-style live show with a full band set-up. Well, you’d be wrong in that assumption. Although on Actor she brings in a few guest musicians, for the most part she prefers to take center stage. After repeated listening of “the Stranger” it’s no surprise that among Clark’s influences are Disney soundtracks like Snow White & Sleeping Beauty. “The Stranger” is evidence that the songwriting on the album is going to appear much grander, confident, & yes, cinematic.
I listen to so little rock music these days that whenever I find myself really loving a rock song, I almost always feel like I've been tricked into it. O + S's"Permanent Scar" snuck over to my good side before I realized what was happening, taking a backdoor opened up by a grunt of a bassline and super-skittish hi-hat rolls, a pair of elements gallivanting as some tingly unclassifiable genre until the softer vocals drop in. The structure is standard, but the delicate web of harmonious elements is anything but, flipping between hiccuped distortion and delicate little piano rolls and a voice so soft you almost don't realize you should be haunted by the subject matter. This one's overwhelming in a deceptive way - it knocks you off guard before you even really realize what's there.
Clues is the new project from Alden Penner (a.k.a. the weirder, more compelling vocalist from The Unicorns). Considering Who Will Cut Our Hair When We're Gone? is an album that floats on whimsy and lightheaded charm, I was surprised to find "Perfect Fit" don a serious mask. The piano marches at a flexible tempo, spilling out from a 1950s movie somewhere, & Penner shifts from childlike goofiness to a sincere notion of romance. It's like a little story covered in shrink wrap, completely visible but protected behind a thin glinting layer. "I have seen the most incredible light, in your eyes.." - this line just doesn't seem real, even though the sentiment is undecorated. The whole thing's precarious, but oddly satisfying, & it makes me giddy to hear what the full release from Clues has to offer.
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Weekly Batch: March 9-13 '09
Every Friday we bring you our weekly batch of uploads. Download all the songs that went up the week of 3/9-3/13 right here, right now.
Album Review: And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead - The Century of Self
I’ll just come out and say it: The Century of Self is ...And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead’s best record since Source Tags & Codes. That album, their first for Interscope Records, found the band grasping at the outsized ambitions no one thought they could achieve, and actually catching a glimpse of it. Bombastic yet earnest with gritty yet hummable melodies and hard-hitting guitars, the volatile album announced the arrival of …And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead. It was the sound of a band operating at the peak of their powers, toeing the line between challenging their limits and overreaching themselves.
Live Review: Cut Off Your Hands at Popscene 3/5/09
During last week's Noise Pop set, lead singer Nick Johnston of Cut Off Your Hands attempted a stage dive not once, not twice, but three times! Unfortunately, that's just what I heard. I wasn't there to experience it. But, lucky for us all, Cut Off Your Hands rolled back through San Francisco to play a headlining set at Popscene on 3/5. It was quite the experience.