Personally, I am a huge fan of John Davis. His drum work in Q and Not U was phenomenal. His pop leanings in Georgie James made me warm inside. Now we have word that he has a new group together called Title Tracks, and they’ve just released their first 7″ off legendary Dischord Records, so you have to support them if you want to keep your street cred. You can head over here for a few samples, or just check the Myspace. Just a heads up on the tunes; it’s got a Ted Leo/Jam feel, which you need to learn to love.
When Beep Beep released their first album off of Saddle Creek Records, one was hard pressed not to find the similarities to heralded post-punk groups like Q and Not U, which is not really a far off comparison, seeing how far the group have gone in changing their sound on the group’s second album, Enchanted Islands.
Of course you will notice that knife-like guitar licks still cleverly cut through the album with precision, but what has evolved beyond the angular guitar-play is the evolution of the funk. Bass lines are much more pronounced this time around, at least on songs like “Secrets for the Well” or “The Whispering Waves.”
More pronounced on this album, however, is the conceptualization, or the effort that Eric Ray and Chris Terry put into telling a story with each different tune. Some stories revolve around traditional mysticism, such as struggles with mermaids, while others like “Seppuku” are interested in Japanese ritualistic suicide through disembowelment. It’s not necessarily a unified concept that runs throughout the album, but one of different perspectives on enchantment. It’s is this disjointed approach to the album that both succeeds and holds the band back at moments. In success, the band has crafted a varying album, layered with changes in tempo and structure, as well as vocal pitch. Each song opens up like a Russian matryoshka dolls, revealing pieces within pieces. At the same time, the effort seems disjointed at moments, as if the epic storytelling proved too much for those at the helm.
You will find some straightforward songs in the presentation of this album, both seeming to tie into each other, lyrically. The ease with which a listener can approach these songs allows for them to shine in the mix of the album, as they step out for just a moment before being consumed again by the whole of the album. “Return to Me” and “I Miss You” both loosely rely upon a classic approach, with gentle guitar accompanied by soaring lyrics. Odds are that most casual listeners will find these the standout tracks, as they are easily consumed, but more rewarding moments exist throughout the entirety of the record.
And that is how it all comes to be on Enchanted Islands, as one must journey with the band, through the dark and light moments, behind the chords and into the lyrics. Each time you find yourself traveling one way, the wind blows, moving you in an entirely new direction within the album, which makes Beep Beep one of the more interesting listens to come out at this point in the year.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/03/10-i-miss-you.mp3]
Download: Beep Beep – I Miss You [MP3]
Sometimes a picture sums everything up, which is precisely what the cover art for Pretty & Nice‘s new album, Get Young, does. The girl frivolously jumping in the air seems to have been listening to this album for quite sometime, as this is exactly what the band prescribes to listeners with their most recent effort.
Influences are abundant, and a trip to the band’s Myspace page yields one key influence that seems to dominate the band’s sound, albeit in an entirely different light; that is the listing of Q and Not U. Several of the more straightforward tracks definitely dwell in that post-punk aggression made famous by the Washington D. C. scene. But, influences don’t always give you a starting point for a conversation.
A band not listed, but definitely in the same vein, is Of Montreal. A few listens to the album and you will find that the vocal inflection of Kevin Barnes is definitely a shared characteristic with Pretty & Nice. It’s not just the vocals that emulate the allusion, but the mixing of electronics inside a rock-fueled song structure. This tactic is used to extremes in the latter half of the album.
Oddly, that contrasts with the hard-hitting punch of the first few tracks, which makes the listening experience unfortunately imbalanced. The opening power definitely draws your attention to the speedy guitar licks and hard-hitting drum sound. It’s this fury and vigor that immediately warrants a positive attitude in regards to the Get Young.
But, the strength of the first five songs wanes as the band begins to sink into a bit of repetition. Each song seemingly blends into the other as the album draws to a close. It’s this element that leaves a question mark on this release. As the band carries you towards the end, it’s almost as if they wore you out too quickly, leaving you with less passion in the end than they offered at the beginning. Sure, they’re still going strong, but it just becomes a bit redundant.
Brash and courageous, Pretty & Nice come out of the gates swinging for the fence, but you can only jump around for so long before your legs go weary, along with your ears. Too good too quick, and then its done all over again, much to the possible demise of this album.