Stream III from Butcher the Bar

Joel Nicholson’s been working as Butcher the Bar for some time, and in that period, he’s gone from solo to full band and probably back again…but for III, we get the full band pop bombast that’s always lived within the confines of Nicholson’s songwriting. There are straight upbeat pop numbers, and some more pensive tunes here, so just stream it below. You can grab the LP directly from Bobo Integral, and if you’re so inclined, you can read my thoughts about each song below.

Lying – I guess I’ve been listening to a lot of Brendan Benson (before he was totally lame in the Raconteurs), and this is the sort of tune I always imagined he’d pen. It’s just a pop rock number with a nice little balance, but as the tune moves on, you get some strings and backing vocal that give it more than your average feel for a pop tune.

Haunts – This is our first soft number; it has this breezy feel to the vocals, as if they’re just wisps of pop melody pushing through your ear canals. I like the piano as the backbone here, and the backing vocal effect is really memorable, charming even.

Clarky – You thought you loved listening to Teenage Fanclub, but always wish the guitar felt just a hint softer? Do yourself a favor, fast forward to the 1 minute mark, press play and thank me later (it happens again around 2:20 too).

Rosa – I get real Death Cab vibes here, like the early stuff when Gibbard’s voice was this whisper in the night guiding you. Musically, I think this is the tune where I realized how solid the rhythm section of the full band is through the entirety of III.

Elevator – This tune’s got nice layered strings and an almost Western guitar that bends in and out of the tune; it makes it one of the softer tunes on the album’s A side. Nicholson’s voice is definitely just floating here, almost spiritual in its presence.

Agree – Side B kicks off with another easily digestible guitar pop number; I like the band’s approach to never really letting those guitars get too far away from the listener…they’ve got the slightest edge to push the song’s tension, but not enough to where one would call it an out and out rocker. Like a really really good ballad, now with guitars that rip.

Toulouse – I think this is my favorite tune of this collection; it’s probably the one that has all the elements that I look for in my pop. Softened vocals, nice little layers and just enough of a percussive element to almost make it rock. Some nice little instrumental moments within the track too.

Wire – Of all the soft numbers, I think this one was my least favorite; I liked the vocal combinations here, and the strings always make me swoon, but just felt like the gradual build could have come earlier, then fallen off, rather than wait to build until the end.

Crime – Coming in at my second favorite track, making the B side my clear choice for the most likely to get worn out from the playing of the needle. Sometimes I get the faintest hint of E. Smith in Nicholson’s voice, and even if that’s just my wishful thinking, it makes me draw my ear nearer.

– Nice little instrumental piece to sort of build your way into the album’s closer. Soft build to a fade out with some sweet horn work.

Go – III started with a huge pop number, and it closes in much the same way. I like the strummed guitar hanging lightly in the mix; there’s this slight banging of the drums that kicks some energy into the tune, which really comes to fruition with the exuberant end of the tune.

All in all, this record’s great. It’s got tons of sweet moments, mixed in nicely with a little bit of the upbeat pop tunes that make guitar/bedroom pop fans swoon. I went 9/11 on songs that I played on repeat over and over again as I went through the record…

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