Quick Review (LP): Go With Me by Seapony

Seapony
Go With Me
Hardly Art; 2011

My Rating: B (74/100)

Best Tracks: "Dreaming", "I Never Would", "I Really Do", "What You See", "Go Away", "Dream of You"

Partly overcast dream pop with glimmers of sunshine throughout the day.

NOTES

  • Jangly dream pop with a heavy girl group vibe.
  • "Dreaming" is a strong opener. One of the better tracks I’ve heard this year. Peppy and hazy all at once.
  • "I Really Do" reminds me of The Pretenders. Dig the use of the slide.
  • You know what I like? It’s dream pop, and I can understand her vocals. In fact, I really like her voice.
  • This album has a very early 90’s feel to it. I can imagine myself going to see this group play in a small basement on a summer evening.
  • Love the riff on "Go Away."
  • The slower pace on "What You See" is nice.
  • Dig the cover, and the band’s name FWIW.
  • All in all, I dig this record for 3 reasons. 1. Pretty + intelligible vocals. 2. Simple but delectable guitar playing. 3. Dreamy atmosphere. This is by no means an earth-shattering record, but it is an exceedingly pleasant and charming one.
  • I suppose I agree with most of Pitchfork’s criticisms, but quite honestly I dig this record for its simplicity. It is a bit vanilla, but it’s a gourmet sort of vanilla rather than ice cream sandwich vanilla. That is, there’s a flavor here that sticks in my mind, and seems to beckon me return for more.

ATTRIBUTES
Cohesion (5/5)
Concept (5/5)
Consequence (4.5/5)
Consistency (4/5)
Songs (4/5)

Quick Review (LP): Idle Labor by Craft Spells

Craft Spells
Idle Labor
Captured Tracks; 2011

My Rating: B (66/100)

Best Tracks: "For The Ages", "Scandinavian Crush", "Party Talk", "After the Moment", "The Fog Rose High". "Beauty Above All"

Mumbly, innocent love songs for bedroom dreamers…

NOTES
– I will say the vocals are a lot easier to understand on this release than on others of this ilk. Thanks for that.
– Pretty pleasant stuff. Sounds like a kid from a John Hughes movie composing a bedroom project soundtrack to an autobiographical film about his freshman year.
– Wild Nothing is musically better, but I wish this guy sang for Wild Nothing. 
– If Wild Nothing is essentially a bedroom version of The Cure, then this is a bedroom version of Simple Minds.
– So when’s he going to get to the cover of "Take On Me"?
– More New Order than Joy Division. It’s a fun little record.
– Overall, not bad. It’s very "sound" based instead of song-based, and for that reason after about the fourth track the music easily slips into the background. Nothing amazing here, but it ain’t bad either.
The Pitchfork reviewer gets this record: “Idle Labor exists in a time frame best described by the title of its ebullient centerpiece– "After the Moment". These are sketches of romantic problems and solutions with the wounds still fresh and the thoughts uncensored. Taken as a whole, it could be read as a narrative following Vallesteros from heartbreak to infatuation and back, a few months’ worth of romantic uncertainty boiled down to a taut and hooky album.”

ATTRIBUTES
Concept (4/5)
Cohesion (5/5)
Consequence (3.5/5)
Consistency (4/5)
Songs (4/5)

Quick Review (LP): Dye It Blonde by Smith Westerns

Smith Westerns
Dye It Blonde
Fat Possum; 2011

My Rating: C

Best Tracks: “Weekend”

There’s been a ton of hype surrounding this record, and I truly expected I’d like it. After several listens, I can safely say this is a mediocre record at best. The band’s influences are obvious, and the music sounds almost exactly how you’d expect it to sound. Still, none of that’s really that problematic. I can handle derivative rock records. The problem with Smith Westerns is an utter lack of vocal talent. It’s a problem I see a lot these days. I recall seeing Wild Nothing last year and thinking the same thing. Give me a Freddie Mercury or a Liam Gallagher or, in Wild Nothing‘s case, a Robert Smith, and then you’ve got something. Without that, you need something far more interesting instrumentally, and the Smith Westerns just don’t deliver on that level. It’s obvious these guys want to make huge rock songs, but there’s far more gloss here than over-the-top glam. The keyboards sheen and the falsettos swell, but I can’t shake the feeing that this just isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be.

Pitchfork review
Metacritic review
AMG review
Sputnik Music review

Quick Review (LP): Gemini by Wild Nothing

wild-nothing Wild Nothing
Gemini
Captured Tracks; 2010

My Rating: B

Best Tracks: “Live In Dreams”, “Summer Holiday”, “O Lilac”, “Confirmation”

There’s a huge amount of potential here. The opener “Live In Dreams” is truly great, and the guitar work is frequently excellent. Aesthetically, it borrows heavily from older alterna-greats like The Cure, The Smiths, and My Bloody Valentine without ripping any of them off. So far so good. However, the biggest drawback is the vocal quality. It’s not that Jack Tatum’s voice is bad, it’s that he’s barely audible and not all that exciting. Perhaps that’s the sort of feel he’s going for, yet I can’t help but think that this band would benefit from a great singer. The music’s awful dreamy, and in need of a bridge to reality. Without that, these tracks come off a little bit too much like bedroom demos. I think Tatum needs a Morrissey for his Marr.

Band Myspace site
Pitchfork review