Wednesday, June 29, 2005

The Weekly, Volume Seven (part three)

Once, twice, and now thrice! Previous "Volume Sevens" can be read here and here, or by scrolling down, or by clicking on the appropriate sidebar links. Expect at least one more post before I take my two week vacation.

Open Season (British Sea Power)
Yes, they're derivative. But their sound remains identifiable. Yes, they seem to have mellowed. But when your songs are this tight, tempo and distortion levels should hardly be a concern. Open Season, BSP's second release on Rough Trade might have surprised some fans of edgy debut, but despite its apparent move toward the mainstream, the core elements of the band's sound remain: intelligently referential lyrics, memorable hooks (especially the rollicking single "Please Stand Up") and atmosphere -- I find there's an underlying sense of wonder running through this record. Choice Cut: "How Will I Ever Find My Way Home?"

Some Cities (Doves)
Another album that has been dismissed somewhat as being inferior to a justifiably acclaimed predecessor. Some Cities is indeed more conceptual (whatever that means) and harder to penetrate than The Last Broadcast. But this latest offering for the Mancunian trio is equally fulfilling. The first four tracks in particular represent simply fantastic album programming. Each of these songs fit lock-step with the next -- foot-stomping and mind-boggling in their depth of rhythmic and melodic feel. The album's middle section returns the band to their moodier shoegaze origins, but the penultimate "Sky Starts Falling" is so heavy that even the most jaded of listeners should be roused out of their aural stupor. Though lacking the obvious radio hits of their previous effort, Some Cities finds Doves in fine form. Choice Cut: "Almost Forgot Myself."

Alligator (The National)
The fourth album from Matt Berninger and the brothers Dessner and Devendorf is an eclectic mix of jangly upbeat rock and mellow balladry. Sure, the poetic lyrics might be slightly overindulgent, but that can be forgiven considering the strength of the tunes to which they're set. And behind the record's obvious catchiness lies a plethora of little sonic details to be discovered. Choice Cut: "Daughters of the Soho Riots."

Black Sheep Boy (Okkervil River)
Like The National, Okkervil River ply their trade in fatalistic but lush garage rock-slash-alt country Americana, and conceptually, this record is even stronger than Alligator. There's lots to love here, from the band's rhodes- and horn-soaked choruses, to Will Robinson Sheff's sublimely ragged vocal delivery. Some have argued that Black Sheep Boy doesn't advance far enough from the trio's Down the River of Broken Dreams, but when a band performs as confidently as Okkervil River do on this album, they can be forgiven for wanting to hold on to their sound for a little longer. Choice Cut: "Black."

War of the Wakening Phantoms (The High Dials)
The High Dials appear to be the next big band out of the (way over-hyped) Montreal indie scene. Their second full-length is an unabashedly upbeat little gem, filled to the brim with confident, hooky songwriting. Immediate standouts include "Our Time is Coming Soon" (though beware of the atrocious sitar solo), the jaunty "Sick of the Old Fire," while "The Lost Explorer" is the album's hidden gem. Though the band definitely takes stylistic cues from The Byrds (by way of The Beatles, and Mod bands like The Action and The Who), their sound is a breath of fresh air when considering the glut of self-conscious, hyper-stylized, posse-based music that's become the city's trademark of late. Choice Cut: "Our Time is Coming Soon." *adapted from a previous posting.

Rest assured, gentle citizens! There's more after the jump!


Blogger The Fresh Young MikeyD said...

I picked up that High Dials disc the other day in one of my CD buying sprees and man is it ace. Soul in Lust and Our Time is Coming Soon make a nice one-two combo. I have to admit I wasn't big into British Sea Power till you kept on me about the concert. After I started listening I grew to appreciate their stuff much more. Given your always excellent recommendations I really got to listen to that Doves disc more than the one time I believe I've listened to it half-heartedly. I'll let you know what I think afterwards. Thanks for the editions of the Weekly in three days; it’s very much appreciated. The more I read someone who knows what they’re talking about the more I can shamelessly steal for when I write my occasional review.

6/29/2005 8:23 p.m.  

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