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Swivel Chairs

The Slow Transmission

(Transit of Venus; US: 7 Aug 2007; UK: Available as import)

Swivel Chairs craft hazy guitar pop that can be as smooth as it is catchy. On their new release, The Slow Transmission, they have written some of their best songs to date. Jason Brown and Jeremy Grites, sole members of the band, split vocal and songwriting duties down the middle here, and they compliment each other well. While they both like songs that are sun-drenched and dusty, Brown seems to let a little more country seep into his songs. The subtle difference sets up a nice juxtaposition to Grites brit-pop influenced numbers. 


Both start the record strong, with Grites penning opener “Here Out of Reach” and Brown following it up with the chugging “Easy Now”. Both songs play to the band’s strengths—subtle riffs over a steady acoustic guitar, the occasional flourish of pedal steel or mandolin, honeyed vocal harmonies. The third song, “All At Once”, sounds bigger than anything else here, with a driving drum beat under a heavy guitar/keyboard attack. It’s a nice change of pace on an album that may rely too much on their established sound. Songs later on in the disc, like “Calloused Hands” and “Lets Get Down to It”, aren’t strong enough to differentiate from earlier, better songs, and they come across as tired formula. That the album falls apart some as it goes is too bad, really, because the first half is full of quality tunes. These guys can clearly write pop songs; they just need to break out of their mold once in a while.

Rating:

Matthew Fiander is a music critic for PopMatters and Prefix Magazine. He also writes fiction and his work has appeared in The Yalobusha Review. He received his M.F.A. in Creative Writing from UNC-Greensboro and currently teaches writing and literature at High Point University in High Point, NC. You can follow him on Twitter at @mattfiander.


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