All that was ever lacking from Springfield Missouri’s, SSLYBY output was better production and a little more rocking spirit. Let It Sway has both. Wonderful melodies and hooks have never been lacking from the band’s songs and they are in abundance here as well. Only now there is more heft and boom behind them. The CD which was released on August 17th on Polyvinyl Records is streaming for free at MBV music. Listen for yourself.
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In Turin, Italy U2 debuted two new and official songs: “Glastonbury” and “North Star”; quite possibly both ditties will show up on the band’s forthcoming album. However, were they decent, entertaining, and credible songs? Why exactly did U2 choose to add them to the European set? A theory: “Glastonbury” has so far replaced the formal show opener “Breathe”; “Beautiful Day” has now taken that song’s place. “Glastonbury” certainly attempts to achieve the anthemic quality and appeal that several songs on No Line on the Horizon so tangibly lacked, and Bono makes similar gestures.
U2 has indeed rehearsed “Breathe”, in Denmark just recently. But the hyper-Dylanesque vocal traits of “Breathe” seem to render it basically immaterial live, and Bono’s botched line during the band’s major California concert hasn’t helped its status live, as it was viewed by nearly the entire planet. (Though I thought “Breathe” went over fairly well at the 2009 show I evaluated.) It’s no surprise also that “New Year’s Day” sometimes succeeds “Beautiful Day”—two unmistakable and bona fide anthems right off the bat, with “Glastonbury” a little down the line.
As for “North Star,” its acoustic, folk music vibe interestingly recalls the defunct Oasis, but also the Verve, and especially Richard Ashcroft’s solo work. It’s a rare and acoustic song from the band – aside from the live version of “Stuck in a Moment You Can’t Get Out Of”. Moreover, the decision to showcase the Batman Forever song “Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me” couldn’t be a wiser move, with its sexy, infectious techno bit combined with the Edge’s slick guitar virtuosity. It’s better than “Get on Your Boots”, though it shares several items in common with it.
Recently I had the opportunity to review guitarist Steve Tibbetts’ latest acoustic endeavor Natural Causes. A cover of Jimi Hendrix’s “Villanova Junction” got axed from the album because it “just didn’t mesh.” As Tibbetts stated on his website:
“It was like having a dinner party where, after most everyone had left and the remaining guests were starting to fall asleep at the table there’s a sudden knock at the door and it’s Jimi Hendrix with an acoustic guitar. Cognitive dissonance.”
Perhaps it’s just me, and I have the tendency to be a “completest,” I really don’t see (or rather, hear) the problem. Can a Hendrix tune slip into something like Natural Causes unnoticed? You can easily find out for yourself by downloading the mp3 from his website. Just don’t blame him for any lack of continuity in your playlist.
San Francisco’s Social Studies offer up a blend of skizzy pop and math rock on their Antenna Farms debut Wind Up Wooden Heart that released this July. Last week, PopMatters’ Dylan Nelson said the album is “peppered with delightful highlights—sudden shifts in tone and velocity, hummable but discreet phrases, bold and thoughtful instrumental flourishes… the album plays well from start to finish.” This is catchy, but never predictable music, tunes that like to mess with traditional song structure, and bring an experimental edge to a pop song. Fan of Deerhoof and Beach House will find much to enjoy here. The group is currently touring and dates and MP3s are listed after the jump.
Aug 17 2010 - Rotture - Portland, OR
Aug 19 2010 - Chop Suey - Seattle, WA
Aug 20 2010 - In-Store @ Music Millennium - Portland, OR
Aug 20 2010 - Backspace - Portland, or
Aug 22 2010 - Rock Make Street Festival - San Francisco, CA
Aug 23 2010 - The Hub - Sacramento, CA