The Chairman Dances’ “Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin” is — as only a song with that kind of title can be — a quietly fervent chronicle of the lives of the titular Catholic activists. It’s the kind of spirited indie rock lazy music writers describe without fail as “jangly”, shimmering verses dropping into a dusty, stomping chorus reminiscent of the wandering rock of Springsteen and Darnielle. Lyrically, it continues in the tradition of the aforementioned artists as well — it’s less a treatise than a scene, reflective and illustrative above all. It’s the kind of eternal indie rock which will survive as long as the guitar stays in style — and, given how well the song fits into this canon and how good the canon as a whole is, this is a fine thing.
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National Park Radio’s straightforward rural folk and bluegrass is a pleasantly rustic sound, the audio equivalent of gigantic cedars and down-home cookouts. The Great Divide is comfortable, upbeat acoustic guitar strumming along to foot stomps and mandolin. It’s dance music in its most traditionally American sense: this is the stuff you waltz to around a campfire with your sweetheart. It’s joy filtered through the lens of Americana, and that simplicity in approach should be celebrated.
According to the singer herself, Kendra Erika updates the Bond-girl framework to 21st century terms, an embrace of glamour and sexuality as an empowering tool. The video to “The Truth Never Lies” does just this, Erika flirting with the camera in a half-dozen different outfits as an anonymously-driven car makes its way through a glitzy downtown. Musically, the piece is similar: noir Eurotrance pumps through Erika’s breathy vocals, a track headed straight for the clubs. Whether Erika can fully carry her vision of the ideal modern Bond girl has yet to be seen, as her career is as yet still nascent; that said, “The Truth Never Lies” is certainly a good start.
Alan Abrahams’ take on his own “Say It’s Going to Change” as Bodycode opens innocently enough, pleasantly eerie synths right out of Selected Ambient Works 85-92 backing a metallic, robotic house beat. Halfway through, though, everything changes: after a quick flare of upper-register whirrs, a twisty bassline thuds in, sending the track into more traditional !K7 territory. The remix masterfully pulls elements in and out of our reach, warm synths eventually dropping out in favor of an all-out bassline assault. Its slow transition from unfocused synth jam to functional dancefloor killer is yet another example of the absolute madness Abrahams can wreak on an unsuspecting mass of bodies crowded around his turntable.
Atoms and Void‘s “This Departing Landscape” is, appropriately enough, atmospheric. This is in the sense of the video, a haphazard, awkwardly beautiful collection of found footage from years of touring and recording, but it’s also in the sense of the way the song plays out. Quiet vocals drop out only a minute through, paving the way for careful electric guitar to call out into the void. The guitar keeps calling and calling and calling and the piano and the drums and the bass keep growing and growing and growing until the piece burns out and fades away. It’s the audio representation of the maxim “life is about the journey, not the conclusion”, which makes for a wonderful ride.