I’ve been reading Amanda Petrusich’s excellent book Do Not Sell At Any Price, about collectors of vintage ’78s. It’s a vastly entertaining piece of non-fiction about people who are obsessed with searching for, saving, collecting, and listening to blues, country blues, country, and world records from the early 1900s. It has me thinking about old school sounds, which is perfect for a review of The New Switcheroo‘s Heartless Sky EP. The Chicago four-piece starts with an old-timey, vocal-heavy folk style–a style which isn’t purveyed nearly as often in the 21st century as it was in the early- to mid-twentieth. From there they layer on unhinged country (“I Remember Clifford”), honky-tonk (“NMR”), and some more modern folk (“Lightning”) accompaniments.
It’s hard to stress enough how much this is a vocals-centric work. The three female vocalists take center stage, putting the spotlight firmly on the theatrical (even operatic) vocal melodies and performances. This may throw some people off-kilter. But for those who are into the style, there’s a lot of strong work here: “Lightning” culminates in a variety of vocal lines weaving and intertwining; it’s an impressive accomplishment. “I Remember Clifford” pulls the same feat, but with some impressive belting (“Pixelated, NM” also features some remarkable vocal roars). These vocalists can really holler when they want to. If you’re into old-school Americana sounds or vocal-heavy outfits, The New Switcheroo may be for you.