More International Acclaim!
If you read the singles column, I like to highlight international bands whenever I can. This month’s edition features Puerto Rico, Germany, Italy, and Greece, as well as the good ‘ol USA. It’s a pretty diverse list of sounds, so hopefully you like a lot of variety…
Song: Ternura Inocente de Inconforme Mujer
Band: Homenaje a Una Bella Cancion
Bottom Line: Indie-rock firepower with a great future.
Indie-rock is not just from English-speaking countries, as Homenaje a Una Bella Cancion (Tribute to a Beautiful Song) are out to prove. These guys have spazzy indie-rock chops to rival For the Mathematics and even At The Drive-in. This song is driven by an urgent bass line, thrusting its way through the mix and giving the rest of the band a reason to spazz out. The drummer is pretty solid- he occasionally hits too many cymbals, but other than that, he can spazz out and stay in time quite well. The guitars are perfect for this style- no chord mashing, just a lot of wild single-note riffing, sequences, and patterns. The only problem comes in the vocals, which are a little overbearing for the style. They are a very melodic breed of vocals, which doesn’t fit well with the spazzing. The song works much better in the intro and the outro, which are free from the restrictions of vocals. It’s not that the vocalist is bad- his tone and range are good- it’s just that he needs to speed it up to keep up with the instruments. Homenaje a una Bella Cancion have the talent to stand up to any English-speaking band there is- let’s hope that they can break the language barrier and make it into America.
Bottom Line: Very creative chill-out track.
Some songs are what I like to call “Movie Driving Songs”- deeply pensive, mysterious, beautiful songs that seem like they should be placed in the part of the movie where the main character is driving on a long highway to get away from everything. “Time” by Fadeout is one of those tracks- a very melancholy, mysterious song that is anchored by a solid trip-hop drummer, great washes of background vocals, throbbing keys, and a very strong female vocalist. The keys/drums interaction really makes the song, as they play off each other flawlessly. When the bassist gets involved in the act late in the song, the results are magnificent. The guitars here are content to frolic on top of this concoction, creating a great sound. Definitely expect good things to be heard out of this group soon, as “Time” is a haunting track that demands replay.
Band: Project Nothing
Bottom Line: Intense, immersing, artistic, stomping techno has arrived.
Everyone loves techno- maybe not on its own, but when you’re watching a spy movie, everyone wants to hear some wicked techno in the background of the chase scenes. “Firemouth” is a song that I want to hear in the background of my spy movie. The song starts off innocently enough, with some thick synth chords and click-track percussion. A jumpy, blippy lead synth is introduced, along with gunshot-type percussion. But before you can say “awesome!” the lead riff comes in- a huge bass-heavy thumping riff full of lightning-speed percussion and enough hip-shaking swagger to get your dance groove on. Melodies are interspersed throughout, but the booming swagger is never abandoned, creating a punchy techno track that will catch and hold your attention within seconds. I love this track.
Song: Neue Zeit
Band: Libido Froid
Bottom Line: Eccentric, jubilant alt-pop-rock sound.
They’re German, and boy do they have a weird outlook on music. “Neue Zeit” starts off in a nearly-reggae style, with the guitars and bass both contributing suitably Jamaican styles. The 1-2-3-4 click of the drums holds it back from being reggae, and transforms it into a unique-sounding rock song as the smooth vocals come. The chorus abandons this mood, turning it into an unlikely anthem, with overdriven guitars, fill-happy drums, ba-ba-bas, and even a trombone. You can’t help but be happy when that chorus hits. It’s jubilant. The bridge is minor, and a little dramatic- but it segues right back into the chorus. Basically, this is a pop song that you want on your happy mixes. It just works. I’m not even sure why it works- it just does. Listen and love it.
Song: Homage to the Queens
Band: The New Ultraviolet Vanish
Album: Toys and Dementia
Bottom Line: Rock track that gives me hope in rock again.
The NUV hail from Italy, but they could just as easily hail from Seattle, because this song hearkens back to the days of flannel and Kurt Cobain. The guitars have that same gritty, dirty, semi-heavy feel that characterized a lot of grunge (except the Smashing Pumpkins), and the vocals are a rough-around-the-edges bark that grabs the ear because of the passion involved, not necessarily the amazing melodic strength (although there are some great melodies in this song, especially in the drums/vocals part). The thing that makes this track so interesting is the drum and bass contribution, which give this a vaguely punkabilly feel, like the Violent Femmes would write. It’s a very unique combination, punkabilly and grunge- and I like it. There’s a lot of energy and passion in this sound, and I think that the NUV will put out some really great music in the future if they keep marching to the beat of their own (punkabilly) drums.
Band: Work In Progress
Album: S/t EP
Website: http://www.57thlock.com/canadianposer and www.purevolume.com/workinprogressks
Bottom Line: Promise shown, growth needed.
Death Cab for Cutie has had a lot of influence on a lot of people- they busted open the doors for the mainstream embracing of indie music, they proved that the good guys win in the long run, and they also made a big impact on Justin Klaas, the man behind Work In Progress. Ben Gibbard’s melodic style can definitely be heard in the vocal melodies of “Face”- and that’s a sad thing, because the music below the vocals definitely deserves better than that. The rhythm guitar in this indie-pop song is pulsing and pressing- a great backdrop for a laid-back, whimsical lead guitar part. The subtle percussion in the chorus lends just enough variation to keep this song from becoming monotonous. It’s a very well-written, very enjoyable little song- and as soon as the vocal melodies establish their own style, this will be great.