Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Sinaloa - Footprints On Floorboards

Sometimes, there are bands that I hear a lot of great things about, bands that get compared to other bands that I like a lot, and bands that because of this reason, I think I would really like. Which is why Sinaloa frustrates me. All of the above scenarios have happened with them, but for some reason, I haven't heard anything by them that really sinks its claws into me and won't let go.

I think the biggest issue I run into when thinking about Sinaloa is the scene in which they are from. Massachusetts has a bunch of fantastic screamo/emo acts playing around the area, including Ampere and Daniel Striped Tiger, two bands that I am big fans of. Coincidentally, I have seen both of those bands live before. Maybe if I saw Sinaloa I would finally get what they're trying to accomplish a bit clearer. Right now, all I hear is that Sinaloa is a band that traffics in the sort of early/mid-90s emo that bands like Moss Icon or Indian Summer became known for.

Meanwhile, Footprints On Floorboards, while being far from offensive, falls into pits of redundancy with me. It becomes hard for me to distinguish songs from one another, and the vocals are pretty uniform throughout the entire album, in that each line usually starts at a pretty high pitch, and works it way down. With the lack of a bass player (except on two tracks, and it's an acoustic double bass!), their guitar work becomes harder to distinguish from song to song. Basically, it all just kind of runs together. They lack the immediate, huge riffs of Daniel Striped Tiger, or the balls out chaos of Ampere.

Yet, part of me feels bad for being so harsh towards Sinaloa. The reason they don't have a bass player is because either their old or prospective bass player ended up dying. They kept the space vacant as a memorial. I also feel bad because there is a ton of emotion being released in every song. Not in a whiny/self-indulgent way, but in huge cathartic bursts. There's just some sort of indistinguishable wall holding them back from me really getting into them.

There are two minutes where Sinaloa hit true pay dirt on this album, and they're the songs "Green Street" and the absolutely staggering closer "With Our Ears To The Soil." The latter has to be one of the more powerful songs I've heard recently, no doubt.

I'll be taking a look at their 2008 album Oceans Of Islands somewhat soon. Maybe that will be the one to finally convert me.


Monday, March 9, 2009

Los Campesinos! - Hold On Now, Youngster

Los Campesinos have all of the energy of an entire kindergarten class hooked up to caffeine IV drips, which is to say, a LOT. Oddly enough, the first band that came to mind upon starting this album was The Anniversary circa Desigining A Nervous Breakdown- if The Anniversary were British and WAY more hyped about everything.

The vocals are split pretty evenly between Gareth and Aleksandra Campesinos (who are also responsible for glockenspiel and keyboard, respectively). I'd have to say I favor Gareth over Aleksandra though. While she's a competent enough singer, she's just kind of, I don't know, there. Meanwhile, her male counterpart, who at times seems like Art Brut singer Eddie Argos' little brother, is wailing his way through every song, sounding exactly like the unhinged, manic adolescent their music seems to represent. He's wildly out of key, he causes the mix to clip at times, but at the same time, he's what pushes the band beyond the lazy comparisons one could make (like the one I did earlier!).

The band's debut album, Hold On Now, Youngster manages to pack in a ton of references (to things like the ATP music festival, K Records), barrels of seemingly teenage angst, and other timeworn lyrical focuses into extremely high strung indie punk. Guitar leads are high on the neck of the guitar and all over the place. Synths buzz in every direction, everyone is shouting, and the whole thing constantly seems like it's on the verge of falling apart. Which is exactly where this album manages to derive a great deal of its charm. If this album was completely smoothed over, or run through a ProTools autotune rig, I doubt I'd be that interested in listening, as it would probably sound just like every other indie band that has managed to score big in Europe. When the songs hit their slower sections, I'm guessing it's because they all just need to take a breather. That's how frantic things get at times.

Surprisingly, the song everybody seemed to dry hump when it came out, "You! Me! Dancing!" was probably my least favorite of the set. It's almost like it made it big because it was the closest thing to safe indie rock that the band had released.

I haven't heard Los Campesinos' 2nd 2008 release, We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed yet, but if it manages to come anywhere close to the manic highs this album achieves, I'll look forward to checking it out.


Monday, March 2, 2009

Darker My Love - S/T

It's midterm week here in Boston, which means I have plenty of time to listen to tons of albums while I do work and whatnot. The only downside, is that I don't have the time to WRITE about them, so I am majorly backed up on content! I'll work through it.

Anyway, Darker My Love is a band that on paper, really shouldn't work. Here we have two ex-members of The Nerve Agents, who were in my opinion, one of the most hype punk/hardcore acts to come out of California, starting a psych-rock/shoegazeish type group. Honestly, my expectations weren't that high. It's just such a complete 180 from everything that made The Nerve Agents so great- their speed, how loose and spastic they seemed at all times, threatening to burst at any moment. My friend Patrick here in Boston, who is from Santa Cruz, CA, has told me several stories of seeing The Nerve Agents and describing it as one of the most dangerous experiences he's ever had in his life.

So yeah, complete stylistic left turn, blah blah blah. To be blunt, this album completely failed to engage me upon first listen. Five tracks in, I was ready to dismiss this album as nothing more than Black Rebel Motorcycle Club's first album worship (which was in itself total Jesus And Mary Chain worship). Two degrees away from the original source material.

But then, all of a sudden, this became the little album that could, as quickly as my second spin through it. I realized my initial comparisons were a bit off. I actually started noticing the organ parts scattered throughout, or the harmonies in the vocals, or just how damn well this album is produced. If I had to be lazy, I would go as far as to describe this band as a more laid back Swervedriver, if Swervedriver wasn't so obsessed with, well, driving, or writing albums as awesome as Mezcal Head.

Sometimes it's as simple as a band just putting together a really well crafted album, that pays respects to their influences without being a total rip. This album is nothing explosive, relevatory, or new for that matter, but it's just good, and it seems to get better each time I come back to it.

I've gotten to the point where I'm taking so much music in that I'm finding it harder to look forward to hearing new things. I mean, I'm always open to it, but actively pursuing specific things happens less and less. I'm a complete mess when I go into a record store, because I have no fucking clue what I'm looking for. That being said, since this album has grown on me, I really want to track down a copy of Darker My Love's second album, the aptly titled 2. It feels good to look forward to stuff again.