Music

Psychic Babble: My Brother's Ears / My Sister's Eyes

Circa Survive guitarist Colin Frangicetto, aka Psychic Babble, spent five years creating his solo debut. Apparently the best he could come up with in all that time was an album of mediocre indie-pop.


Psychic Babble

My Brother's Ears / My Sister's Eyes

Label: Yenta
US Release Date: 2011-08-16
UK Release Date: 2011-08-16
Amazon
iTunes

Psychic Babble is the name Circa Survive guitarist Colin Frangicetto has chosen for his solo project. It's a name that evokes swirling, psychedelic music, filled with synths and with at least a couple of the spacier tracks lingering past the eight-minute mark. The reality bears very little resemblance to the preconceived notions, however. Album opener "Five Fold Kiss (Don't Sleep)" begins with washes of synth and a quickly moving click track, but then it settles right into a mid-tempo indie-pop song with a backbone of quiet, icy guitars. The synths and clicks come back after the chorus, but disappear after that, leaving an adequate song anchored by Frangicetto's vocal refrain, "Don't sleep / Don't sleep / Don't sleep tonight." It's not a bad song by any means, but it doesn't have a lot of personality. That pretty much describes every song on My Brother's Ears / My Sister's Eyes.

If you're at all a fan of the broad mix of styles that fall under the umbrellas of "indie rock" and "indie pop", you've been hearing variations on this album for the better part of a decade. Nothing about the album sets it apart from anything else on the indie-pop spectrum. Frangicetto is a serviceable singer, but his voice isn't particularly distinctive or compelling. There's nothing challenging in his song construction. It's all verse-chorus-verse stuff, with an occasional bridge or solo thrown in. That would be fine, except he doesn't seem to have the melodies or riffs, or even just plain hooks, to make Psychic Babble stand out as something particularly catchy. There isn't anything here to make the listener sit up and pay attention, so it quickly becomes background music.

Fragicetto occasionally changes things up from his slightly dreamy indie-pop template, but not enough to make much difference. "Samantha" is slowed-down, with jangly guitars, harmonica, and even slide guitar. It has the feel of a country-style track, but there's no passion in Fragicetto's vocals to really sell the song. "You Said It" is upbeat, with some nicely arranged '80s-style synths driving it. It's one of the better songs on the album because the synths carry a lot of the melodies. "Follow Your Bliss" may be the best song here, and it's no coincidence that it's the one track where Fragicetto fully commits to the dream-pop vibe he's been nudging at for the rest of the album. The verses of the song feature lush synth chords, strummed acoustic guitar, and quiet banjo in the background. The chorus is driven by a jittery guitar riff and the repeated refrain, "If you follow your bliss / follow your bliss." Some nicely placed harmony makes it the closest thing the album has to a memorable chorus, and it's the one spot where it all comes together for Psychic Babble.

Weirdly, the most interesting parts of My Brother's Ears / My Sister's Eyes are the oddball interludes that come, seemingly random and unrelated, near the ends of some tracks. "Radio Songs" has a spoken-word bit in the outro, as a man discusses being sober, but very, very tired. The same voice returns again, always at the end of songs, doing an odd speak-singing thing that seems like a stream of consciousness. It's a genuinely strange thing on an album that isn't nearly strange enough. With all the by-the-numbers indie-pop going on during the rest of the album, I found myself wanting to hear more of these rants, no matter how badly sung they are.

If there's an audience out there for this album, it's going to be mostly hardcore Circa Survive fans who want to follow what every band member is doing. As an indie-pop album, My Brother's Ears / My Sister's Eyes is nothing even slightly special. But Circa Survive has a pretty strong following, and I could see some of those fans who mostly stick to the metal-progressive-hardcore styles of music finding this album to be a breath of fresh air. To the rest of us, though, Psychic Babble is going to seem run of the mill. The press materials for this album tout that it was five years in the making. It's a good thing that Frangicetto has a gig in a full-time band as an excuse, because otherwise taking five years to create something this mediocre would be pretty embarrassing.

4

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

Keep reading... Show less

Pauline Black may be called the Queen of Ska by some, but she insists she's not the only one, as Two-Tone legends the Selecter celebrate another stellar album in a career full of them.

Being commonly hailed as the "Queen" of a genre of music is no mean feat, but for Pauline Black, singer/songwriter of Two-Tone legends the Selecter and universally recognised "Queen of Ska", it is something she seems to take in her stride. "People can call you whatever they like," she tells PopMatters, "so I suppose it's better that they call you something really good!"

Keep reading... Show less

Morrison's prose is so engaging and welcoming that it's easy to miss the irreconcilable ambiguities that are set forth in her prose as ineluctable convictions.

It's a common enough gambit in science fiction. Humans come across a race of aliens that appear to be entirely alike and yet one group of said aliens subordinates the other, visiting violence upon their persons, denigrating them openly and without social or legal consequence, humiliating them at every turn. The humans inquire why certain of the aliens are subjected to such degradation when there are no discernible differences among the entire race of aliens, at least from the human point of view. The aliens then explain that the subordinated group all share some minor trait (say the left nostril is oh-so-slightly larger than the right while the "superior" group all have slightly enlarged right nostrils)—something thatm from the human vantage pointm is utterly ridiculous. This minor difference not only explains but, for the alien understanding, justifies the inequitable treatment, even the enslavement of the subordinate group. And there you have the quandary of Otherness in a nutshell.

Keep reading... Show less
3

A 1996 classic, Shawn Colvin's album of mature pop is also one of best break-up albums, comparable lyrically and musically to Joni Mitchell's Hejira and Bob Dylan's Blood on the Tracks.

When pop-folksinger Shawn Colvin released A Few Small Repairs in 1996, the music world was ripe for an album of sharp, catchy songs by a female singer-songwriter. Lilith Fair, the tour for women in the music, would gross $16 million in 1997. Colvin would be a main stage artist in all three years of the tour, playing alongside Liz Phair, Suzanne Vega, Sheryl Crow, Sarah McLachlan, Meshell Ndegeocello, Joan Osborne, Lisa Loeb, Erykah Badu, and many others. Strong female artists were not only making great music (when were they not?) but also having bold success. Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill preceded Colvin's fourth recording by just 16 months.

Keep reading... Show less
9

Frank Miller locates our tragedy and warps it into his own brutal beauty.

In terms of continuity, the so-called promotion of this entry as Miller's “third" in the series is deceptively cryptic. Miller's mid-'80s limited series The Dark Knight Returns (or DKR) is a “Top 5 All-Time" graphic novel, if not easily “Top 3". His intertextual and metatextual themes resonated then as they do now, a reason this source material was “go to" for Christopher Nolan when he resurrected the franchise for Warner Bros. in the mid-00s. The sheer iconicity of DKR posits a seminal work in the artist's canon, which shares company with the likes of Sin City, 300, and an influential run on Daredevil, to name a few.

Keep reading... Show less
8
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image