Independent Clauses | n. —unusual words about underappreciated music

Pandora Chronicle: The Postal Service

May 1, 2007

Pandora Chronicle: The Postal Service

Pandora’s been getting a lot of recognition as of late as a major player in the campaign to save internet radio. But even before they became a major policy-influencing organization, they were popular here at Independent Clauses. Our intermittent feature “Pandora Chronicle” features a staff member picking one of their favorite bands, plugging it into the Pandora radio station creator, and reviewing the first three tracks that come up (unless they’re really well-known). This month, editor-in-chief Stephen Carradini punched the Postal Service into Pandora, and these tracks are what Pandora recommended.

Lilian – Depeche Mode

This is a song from Depeche Mode’s 2005 release Playing the Angel. I didn’t know Depeche Mode was still together, but apparently they are alive, kicking and releasing interesting music. It’s kinda weird to hear a band that is associated with the 80’s in the now, as the hallmarks of the 80’s sound aren’t retro pandering but residual effects of actually being an 80’s band. That being said, this song is quite good, with some great melodies (that, truth be told, do have a Postal Service vibe). The instrumentation smacks of 80’s (drum machines, ahoy!) but no worse than She Wants Revenge. I liked the vocals a lot (less dour than most 80’s bands) and this song flowed well. Three cheers for an old band still releasing good music.

Was It a Crime – French Kicks

A repetitive, clanging sample and plaintive strum anchor the intro to this fuzzed out, lackadaisical song. The rest of the song doesn’t get much more complicated, as free-floating vocals, spare drumming and plodding bass work fill out the song. It makes for a very strange mood – the song is mid-tempo, but it feels very nearly epic. The problem is that it’s standing on the threshold- it never quite gets there. Not very much electronic about this band, although this quirky track will certainly impel me to check them out more.

Why London? – Eskobar

A more down-tempo, trip-hoppy style electronica is presented in “Why London?” The song is complete with a dusky, husky female vocal performance and tons of reverb. The mood set is pretty strong, but underlying melody is a little peppy for the beat of the song. It undermines the slow tempo a bit. But it sounds good in context of the song, and I still had my head bobbing for the entirety of the song. Very moody, very chill – definitely a 3 a.m. driving in Vegas song. It’s that in-the-know cool.

A Number, Not a Name – Statistics

This one starts off drone-heavy before introducing the vocals and a simple beat. The vocals here are the type I like – emotive, but not whiny; melodic, but not overly so. The voice sounds real. The beat is spare once again, relying on the strength of the underlying melodic drone and the chorus-initiating high synth melodies. By the time Statistics starts to layer the high melodies, it’s become clear that this is a formula that works. A very, very enjoyable song – probably my favorite of the four reviewed here.

Until next month, keep listening to Pandora.

-Stephen Carradini

independentclauses@hotmail.com

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Stephen Carradini and friends write reviews of bands that are trying to make the next step in their careers.

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