Quiet Stories is Matt Moran of the short-lived (but personally beloved) band The Typist. “Quiet” is a bit of a misnomer, as the acoustic-led songs of the Where I Belong EP combine the passion of Dashboard Confessional (“Step One”) with the driving piano of Bruce Springsteen (“I Know,” “Dog Days”). The two parts interweave into a unique whole; the choruses of “I Know” and “Dog Days” are strongly reminiscent of Dashboard Confessional’s melodies, and “Where I Belong” marries those two concepts to a rousing, triumphant horn section for a highlight track.
But the most remarkable track here is the titular ‘quiet story’ of “Forever and Always,” which pairs gentle fingerpicking, emotive sung vocals (as opposed to enthusiastic hollering), and dreamy toy piano to create a poignant, mature tune. Moran has an abundance of songwriting chops, and they all come out in “Forever and Always” to create in me a lot of excitement about what’s to come for and from him. Many singer/songwriters can be slotted into followers as one particular band, and it may seem like that for Quiet Stories, from the way I’ve written this review. But the impressiveness of “Forever and Always” and the memorably fun title track point toward the fact that Moran has a unique skill worth celebrating. Watch out for Quiet Stories in the near future.
A couple days ago I talked about some influences that can cause a band to become a folk-pop band. It was by no means comprehensive, and today I can point out another influence on folk-pop: punk rock. I don’t know if any of the members of Queen Beard have pop-punk roots, but the brash, frenetic fervor of “Pop Song, Pt. 2” speaks to the manic four-on-the-floor mentality than Americana roots. This is a compliment: “Pop Song, Pt. 2” is thrilling. While “Villains” includes flutes, banjo, and a general Americana vibe, the rough vocals teeter right on the edge of yelling, calling up punk forebears.
The Ruder Years EP isn’t all on that end of the spectrum: “Old Friend” is a melancholy tune with sung vocals that lean toward the speak/sing style that folkies often adopt. “Stage Lights” and the title track adopt an upbeat vocal style that fits more in line with mile-a-minute new folk lyricists like Josh Ritter and Dan Mangan. Ruder Years is an upbeat, lively, and quite fun new-folk EP. If you’re into folk that gets you moving, you’ll be all about Queen Beard.
England in 1819 was a Brit-influenced piano-pop band last time they sent something my way. With Fireball Electric Tomorrow, the band has slimmed down size-wise to a duo and completely recrafted its sound. Calling their sound “grandwave,” they combine operatic vocals (a la Antony and the Johnsons), waves and waves of synths, and beats to create a lush, flowing sound. It’s not chillwave; the sound draws off the most expansive elements of the ’80s new wave sound. The band doesn’t attempt to write pop tunes (although tunes like “Himmel” do function that way), but to truly make an overall experience. They succeed, as Fireball Electric Tomorrow is a lovely, lively 45 minutes. Definitely a fun and worthwhile trip.