Listening Notes, Ultra-Brief (pt. 12)


PICKS

Girls, Father, Son, Holy Ghost

“Looking for love,” grumbles Chris Owens across an album that opens bouncy and quickly veers into extended solos and gospel choirs. Another sad sack in love wi/band, leaning vocally towards (restrained) Robert Plant this time around, not Elvis Costello. But this could so easily be arch, and it isn’t – Owens seems to think Love a worthy enough topic for exploration, and also thinks Deep Purple/Pink Floyd deserve your consideration alongside such taken-for-granteds as Beach Boys/Beatles. 

Wild Flag, Wild Flag

Don’t call it a supergroup. Opening strong with guitar-organ crunch and singalong chorus, and never letting up or letting go, this conjures memories of Sleater-Kinney while effectively distancing itself from that seminal outfit. Funny how one can’t help but hear the ghost of Corin Tucker, fake British drawl and all. But guitars quote liberally from the classic rock canon, while non-S-K alumni add far more than backup. Drummer Janet Weiss should politely decline Stephen Malkmus next time he calls. She has bigger fish to fry.  

NEAR PICKS

Givers, In Light

In this era of chronically overdiagnosed ADHD, it would be unseemly to suggest placing this abundantly talented group on methylphenidate, but an inability to see songs through to their logical conclusion without springing wide-eyed for tricky time shifts and soft/loud dynamics undercuts their strongest quality – pure melody. With boy/girl vocals no less impressive for their debt to Vampire Weekend, these folks have the goods.

The Rapture, In The Grace Of Your Love

No indication the 70s-winking song titles (“Miss You,” “How Deep Is Your Love?”) are anything other than private jokes. The former channels Soft Cell, the latter dives headfirst into the club. Also hard to tell whether Luke Jenner believes in his own transformative vocal powers at all or if he maybe believes in them far too much – when he plays the disinterested diva, it works. When he strains like Bono, it does not. 

BOMBS

Boston Spaceships, Let It Beard

Guided By Voices dissolved in 2004, but Robert Pollard’s activities haven’t ceased a whit – Wikipedia counts some 1,400 songs by his hand. Indefatigable work ethic, then, with absolutely no quality control. Outsider artists like Jandek and R. Stevie Moore have hundreds of songs to their name, too. In a world in which a single photograph of Charley Patton exists, I call another 75 minutes of Pollard’s “vision” artist saturation.

YACHT, Shangri-La

Exceedingly silly stuff, and refreshingly so, savvy enough for autotune indulgence while retro enough to embrace archaic blurts. Unfortunately, the silliest – stupidest – thing about this is the one thing maestro Jona Bechtolt seems to take seriously – a millenarian/ doomsday philosophy manifesting itself in exhortations as addle-brained as any rich rocker’s paean to Krishna. Always beware of laptop engineers speaking of Utopia.