I love pop songs. Doesn’t matter if the great melody is accompanied by guitar, synths or a choir of saxophones: a good pop song will make me happy. And Nobody Really, the nom de plume of Fred Soligan, is in the business of pop songs. In fact, he even goes so far as to say “I want to make you sing!” toward the end of “Aren’t You Just.”
The middle song of the three-song electro-pop EP “Who Did This?” isn’t as catchy as opener “ALARMS! ALARMS!,” which is itself nowhere near as frantic as the title would make it out to be. The mid-tempo electro-pop song resides in the Owl City vein (albeit with grittier synths). I’ve been to an Owl City concert and love me some Ocean Eyes, so I say that as no knock. It’s just what it is.
Soligan’s voice is way above the level needed to float electro-pop songs, and his vocals and melodies are two of the best assets here. The other asset is potential. That’s a nice way of saying, “Man, these songs could have been awesome if…”
And the follow-up to that common phrase in this case is, “Soligan had better percussive noises and a fuller vision for what these songs could be.” The first bit is a personal quibble: I think that the heavily processed percussion noises Soligan employs clash with the smoother synth sounds that he pulls together for the rest of his songs.
The second complaint is that there’s not a personality that can be extrapolated from these tunes. Granted, there are only three of them, and you can’t have the whole world on one small plate. But these are nice songs that don’t have any distinctive markers. Owl City is a big touchstone, as well as other young songwriters like Never Shout Never! and Mansions, but without the markers of either. I’d like to see Nobody Really transcend his moniker and become someone: find a unique stamp, a subtle twist to the sound, and make it his own. Do you play sax, Fred Soligan? I’m only part kidding.
“Who Did This?” by Nobody Really (there’s the joke full-out; I oblige) is a competent little EP of electro-pop with solid vocals and a lot of room to grow. If you’re a big fan of the genre, these three tracks are all free over at Nobody Really’s Bandcamp. Consider it a “Happy Spring!” present to yourself.
Nathan Leigh’s glitch ep features “Let’s Get Lost (Alternate Mix),” whose soaring melody and piano-led pensiveness stuck in my head for several weeks. If Owl City absorbed some Transatlanticism-era Death Cab moods, he’d be making moving tunes like “Let’s Get Lost,” as Nathan Leigh operates in a similar electronic pop idiom (but without much of the kitsch and bubblegum).
The rest of the tunes fare decently, but none stand out in the long run. Many of them are heavy on the glitchy production of the name, and the heavy static hits hurt my enjoyment of them. “Breathing in Fast” is an exception, an upbeat pop song that evokes Cobra Starship or Like Clockwork. Overall, it’s decent, with a shining star among the rest.
I blew up my computer a few weeks ago, resulting in the lack of posts. I apologize for the deathly pallor that seemed to settle over Independent Clauses. It’s been a pretty crazy few weeks. I get my new computer Friday, and we should be rolling again.
I love and hate live shows. Transcendent, life-affirming and soul-expanding are all phrases I have lavished on excellent sets; soul-crushing, abrasive and interminable are all words with which I have belittled terrible performances. A thoroughly average act skews more to the interminable side, which means the room for error is large.
Making matters even more sketchy is this all-too-common occurrence: that band with lovely recordings which smushes my expectations into the dirt with a reprehensible live show. One band that shall remain nameless suckerpunched me twice: the first set I saw was so awful that I incorrectly passed it off as “an off night” and felt optimistic going in to the second set a year later, which ended up being exponentially worse. I don’t listen to that band any more.
And yet, through all of this potential for letdown, I keep anticipating live shows (I’m resisting a comparison to love and relationships). That anticipation has translated into a new and ongoing project: I’m going on a quest to see all top twenty of my most-listened-to bands (according to my Last.FM). Here’s the list, complete with current statuses. Bold indicates I have plans to see them before the end of the year.
1. The Mountain Goats (1,063 plays) – Seen twice, once in Norman and once in Dallas
2. Sufjan Stevens (1,010 plays)
3. Novi Split (597 plays)
4. Coldplay (490 plays) – Seen once: Ford Center, Oklahoma City.
5. Damien Jurado (487 plays) – Seen once: Opolis, Norman.
6. Joe Pug – Seen once: The Conservatory, Oklahoma City.
7. Low Anthem – Seen once: Rose State Auditorium, Midwest City.
8. Elijah Wyman
9. Death Cab for Cutie – Seen once: Cain’s Ballroom, Tulsa.
10. Relient K – Seen 4-6 times, various Tulsa and Oklahoma City locations.
11. Josh Caress
12. Owl City – Seen once: McCasland Fieldhouse, University of Oklahoma, Norman.
13. Josh Ritter
14. Rocky Votolato
15. Switchfoot – Seen once: Cain’s Ballroom, Tulsa.
16. Bleach – Seen 3 times: various Tulsa locations. RIP
17. Mumford and Sons
18. The Avett Brothers – Seen twice: Austin City Limits 2009; Rose State Auditorium, Midwest City.
19. The Tallest Man on Earth
20. Before Braille – RIP
And to get myself back into writing about music, I’ll be writing about each of the bands, in order.