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PopMatters Music Short Takes
our brief reviews of new releases
20 July 2005
Mobius Band, City Vs. Country EP (Ghostly International) Rating: 5
"I'm so sick of music," goes the chorus of "Starts Off with a Bang", the lead track of Mobius Band's EP City Vs. Country. At the end of the 20 minutes of the EP, the listener might start feeling the same way. Mobius Band has an interesting sound, a kind of an orchestral lap-pop, where a simple base and a simple pop hook are complemented by layers and layers of instrumentation. The results are exciting, every track is a sonic experience of sorts, particularly considering how deft the band is in building up tension, but ultimately the sonic variety overwhelms the album. The intricate instrumentation acts as a distraction from the songs themselves. Now, "Starts Off with a Bang" and the thoroughly anthemic title track (clearly the centerpiece of the album) prove that the band can create some memorable songs, but the relentless overproduction suggests that the band does not trust its own songwriting. Busy production is not in itself a sin if it serves the songs, but Mobius Band has yet to find the right balance. Right now, the band just tries to impress the audience by showing us how many sonic tricks it has up its collective sleeves, when it should be trying to impress us with the songs themselves.
Angela Correa, Correatown (Bed Pan) Rating: 8
Angela Correa recorded most of these songs in one take... one very lovely take. The disc is as alt-country or Americana as you will like -- haunting melodies, darker edges and a solid, heartfelt vocal. Think of Kathleen Edwards and songs like "Mercurial Heart" will jump out and grab you. Touches of keyboards and drums round out the songs, but if left alone Correa would shine. Correa could sing the horoscopes and draw you in judging by the gorgeous "Super Paper Airplanes" that resembles Sheryl Crow circa The Globe Sessions. She is in no hurry on these slower, roots-oriented tunes, especially the sway-inducing "Savvy Young Punks" although this one has some subtle pace changes. The lone up-tempo track early on is "Pinwheels" which resembles Lucinda circa Essence. There are several great tunes here, whether it is the somber "Saint Dinan" or the engaging "The Songcatcher". World weary and filled with some heartbreak, Correa nails each number perfectly, particularly the gorgeous "Hardship to Be (Souvenir)". A broken heart never sounded so good...
Palomar, 3.5 EP (self-released) Rating: 5
Criticizing Palomar for being "cute" isn't really saying much anymore. Most listeners that are aware of the band either love this aspect of their music or have written them off entirely. I tend to fall into the latter camp (for two of my friends, "palomar" is a catch-all for bland indie-pop) but have always held out hope that I might get over it and be able to enjoy the band on their terms. Their Palomar 3.5 EP is a digital-only release of demos that is available from EMusic, a site that offers 50 free downloads as a trial for their pay service (the basic offer is $9.99 per month for 40 MP3 downloads). Palomar's musical vocabulary is still a little too limited for me, but the lyrics that I can make out here convey a genuine sense of resolution in the face of overwhelming confusion that I find genuinely engaging. Plus, I find myself singing the choruses to "Woah!" and "Washington" without being otherwise prompted. In this limited dose (six songs in about 18 minutes) I've found myself able to listen over and over without being worn out by what I still find frustrating in their music. Worth it for the above-mentioned songs and as a hopeful sign of things to come for their in-the-works fourth album.
The Exies, Head for the Door (Virgin) Rating: 5
It's a relative certainty that there are people who exist that think the best thing that's happened to rock radio in the last ten years is the stratospheric rise of Puddle of Mudd. These are the people who would love The Exies' third album, Head for the Door. If you've turned on rock radio for more than an hour recently, you know what this sounds like, especially given that there's a better than average shot that you heard first single "Ugly" among the rest of the pseudo-grunge angst filling up the airwaves. The Exies channel Stone Temple Pilots ("Don't Push the River"), Nirvana ("Splinter"), and, that's right, Hoobastank on the admittedly lovely "Tired of You", whose resemblance to 'Stank's "The Reason" can mean only one thing: There's a better-than-average chance that it'll be one of the top 10 most played songs on the radio this year. The Exies never get too fancy, keeping all of their songs under four minutes, and the music is pretty harmless, even given its blatant unoriginality. It's background music for angry teenagers, and as such, it does just fine.
Throttlerod, Starve the Dead (Small Stone)
Alter Bridge not quite filling the gaping hole that Creed left when they broke up? Miss that late-era Alice in Chains sound? Are you that dude who occasionally asks himself, "Hey, whatever happened to Days of the New? I liked them!" If so, well, first off, you might want to look around this here site for a few hours and discover some new music. But to ease your transition, you might also want to check out this EP from Richmond, VA power trio Throttlerod. While the name - and the band's past recorded output - might suggest a heavier, dirtier, thrashier sound, the group breaks out the acoustic guitars and big, sweeping choruses on this outing. This is radio-ready album rock for those stations that still think Interpol and Franz Ferdinand are still a little too "out there." It certainly doesn't break any new ground stylistically and each song follows the same path (quiet verse, slightly louder chorus, back to the quiet verse, back to the louder chorus, solo, biggest chorus yet), but everything is played with a professional precision and there's a definite cohesive sound. I certainly enjoyed it more than anything I've ever heard by Nickelback or 3 Doors Down. Take that for what it's worth, if anything.
.: posted by Editor 6:53 AM