Sometimes bands form to ride the crest of a trend. Sometimes the trend catches up to a band that was already there. The latter is the case for 28 Degrees Taurus, whose jangly/dreamy/psychedelic female-fronted songs fall neatly between Beach House’s dreamy haze and Sleigh Bells’ skronked-out, ultrarhythmic pop noise.
Anchored by the knowledge that they’ve been doing this since 2005 and didn’t just form to catch the trend, you can enjoy the good songs on All The Stars In Your Eyes. And they are good. They aren’t as immediately catchy as Sleigh Bells, but they aren’t as slow as Beach House. There’s defined rhythm, full guitar work and upbeat tempos, but the vocals tend more to dreamy bits and pieces than staccato bursts of notes.
It’s a combination that works really well. This, admittedly, is not my favorite genre of music, but I can recognize talent where it lies, and it lies here. 28 Degrees Taurus has carved out a niche in indie-rock, and they kick it in that spot for 12 tracks. If you’re up for that, then you’ll enjoy it. If you think that reverb is the worst thing to re-occur in music since The Darkness tried to bring back hair metal, well, this isn’t for you. But know that it’s a preference thing, and not a quality thing: these tunes are well-written, energetic and engaging. Rock on, 28 Degrees Taurus.
Friendly Psychics Music is one of my favorite record labels of all time. It is basically composed of Chris Jones, John Wenzel, and their group of friends. People are occasionally grafted into the group, and each friend gets their own project name. The Jones/Wenzel aesthetic is extremely idiosyncratic, in that I could recognize an a FPM release in less than ten seconds, even if I’ve never heard it. Their vaguely psychedelic, fractured folk and indie rock is incredibly unique and difficult to break into, but it’s rewarding once you do.
Derecho is not far outside the FPM model. Dropped at 10,000 Feet features Dan Miller (a major player in the FPM catalog, although not as forefront as Jones/Wenzel) as the primary songwriter, with Jones on bass and Wenzel contributing on only two songs. Miller has a much more honed pop aesthetic than Jones/Wenzel, and that makes the songs on this EP some of the most straightforward indie-rock tunes that FPM has ever released.
It doesn’t mean they’re normal (I don’ t think FPM does normal), but they’re a lot more accessible than flagship artist Dishwater Psychics. Miller strums his guitar consistently (something that is taken for granted until you hear FPM artists that, well, don’t) and has driving bass and guitar to back it up. Miller’s vocals and lyrics are also much more caustic and bitter than Wenzel’s mournful baritone and overarching sense of disdain, giving the release a distinctly different attitude than other FPM releases.
The songs move quickly and induce head-bobbing, but the caustic delivery of the vocals may turn some off, especially in the self-loathing “Canadian Whiskey” (which, for the record, is my favorite type. I’m drinking some now, in honor). The highlight here is closer “Measured in Millions,” where Wenzel contributes vocals. Wenzel’s voice has become a part of my musical consciousness, but it’s almost always used in jarring and abstract atmospheres. Hearing it paired with the driving, reverb-washed indie-rock of Dan Miller’s invention is incredible. The two pieces fit together perfectly; if Wenzel had sung on each of the tracks on this EP, it would have been even better than it is now. Maybe that’s the next project?
Derecho’s Dropped at 10,000 Feet is a good turn for the FPM guys. It’s not my favorite release by them, but it certainly is high on my list. Reining in some of the more aesthetically challenging parts of the FPM ourve was a nice change. If you like cerebral indie pop (like Grizzly Bear, Beach House, etc) or off-kilter vocals (Modest Mouse, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, etc, although Miller is nowhere near as grating as Alec Ounsworth), this should be one to check out.