Tag Archives: ep

EP review: Duplodeck

(Originally appeared on Tympanogram here)

Duplodeck EP
Duplodeck EP

It’s not too often that we get indie music out of Brazil. Well, not just indie, but music in general. Except for the Tropicalia movement and, more recently, CSS, it’s difficult to pin down a Brazilian sound.

Duplodeck charts some fun, garage-pop territory with a bit of Stereolab lounge mixed in for good measure. Their 5-track EP, which has remained unreleased until recently, is quite varied in sound. The fun garage-pop of “Strange Girl,” with its loud and nearly out of control guitars flailing all over the place, would fit perfectly amongst the songs of 90’s rock revival band Yuck. Contrasting this sharply is “Nouvell Vague,” which anyone would immediately confuse with Stereolab. The soaring female lead vocal combined with vibes, and vintage keyboards and that lounge-y relaxed tempo and groove captures the essence of seemingly hundreds of Stereolab songs in a little more than 4 minutes.

It seems that the band is alternating between jangly garage pop and finely crafted retro lounge music with the corners finely rounded. This seems to be the case upon hearing “A Good Man is Hard to Find,” which moves straight back into a slightly noisier, rougher realm. A Spanish sound is conjured courtesy of the phrygian mode used in the opening guitar chords, which makes it sound as if a bullfight is about to break out. It doesn’t take too long for the loud guitars to break in and take the song full on into Kinks territory. I believe that the fourth track – “Última Sessão de Cinema” – is really the best track on the EP. This track also does the best at melding the two main styles present throughout with a bit of noise brought to the relaxed lounge sound of the female vocal. The final track, “I’m Sure,” was recorded live giving us an even better glimpse into what this band is truly all about. The loud jangle shines through from what sounds like what was a raucous set.

One can tell with this EP that the group has written many songs together. There isn’t really any formula in place. Instead there is a whole lot of ideas contained within a few different approaches to sound. It’s a fun EP that is worth a listen, and hopefully we will start to hear some new music from this group soon.

(Editor’s Note: You can grab the whole EP for free over at the band’s Bandcamp page, where you can also order the EP on cassette through Pug Records.)

Duplodeck on Bandcamp

[audio:http://quartertonality.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/duplodeck-duplodeck-EP-04-Última-Sessão-de-Cinema.mp3|titles=Duplodeck – “Última Sessão de Cinema”]

EP review: TV Torso – "Status Quo Vadis" EP

(Originally appeared on Tympanogram here)

TV-Torso
TV-Torso

 

Have you ever had one of those “Ah HA!” moments when listening to a band? No, I’m not talking about Norweigan one hit wonders and official musical group of the 1996 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, Ah-ha. I’m talking about Austin, Texas’ TV Torso and their EP Status Quo Vadis. As I listened to it on repeat I kept wondering, with an increasing amount of persistence, “What does this remind me of?” I knew it was something I used to spin a lot not too long ago. Something about the ambiance of the sound made me remember the band Sound Team and their album Movie Monster from 2006. There is a song on there, “Your Eyes are Liars,” that I absolutely love. That album just sparks something in me, reminding me of a particularly exciting time in my life where I was just starting to listen to a lot of new music.

It was disappointing to come to the realization that Movie Monster would probably be the last thing that I would ever hear from Sound Team. The years went by and no news from the band ever surfaced. But lo and behold! Tracing my curiosity to last.fm and reading the bios of both bands I realize that my ear was right and there is a connection. Two of the members of TV Torso, drummer Jordan Johns and singer/guitarist Matt Oliver both come from Sound Team. Maybe my first hint would have been to look at the track-listing of Movie Monster again, because track 5 is a song called “TV Torso.”

This EP could serve as a new beginning, and the way that it opens it sounds like the band is trying to do exactly that. They have an already fully formed sound that includes the hypnotic swirl of echo that made Sound Team’s music so recognizable. Songs like “Slanderer’s Stew” and EP closer “Far Enough Away” are both extended minimalist jams that include extended instrumental work while “Two Glass Eyes” is more typical of standard song length and verse chorus verse structure.

It’s a solid effort from established musicians. Personally I’m just happy that I can pick up again with TV Torso where Sound Team left off.

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TV Torso on: Facebook/Bandcamp/Web

 

New Grand Lake single

Grand Lake, having recently released their truly wonderful EP “Leaves Ellipse” has now put out the 2nd single from that EP.

“Christmas, California”, described perfectly by Grand Lake bandleader Caleb Nichols as “drenched in springtime sunshine, total California ear-candy.” It’s a fun song and one of the many highlights of “Leaves Ellispe”.

The song will also be available on a vinyl-only compilation released on Record Store Day by Burnside Distro – also featuring HAD Records label-mates the Heavenly States, as well as the incomparable Sea Of Bees.  You should definitely look for that on Record Store Day, which is April 16 this year.

Check out the song here, as well as the video that was filmed around the band’s new home of San Luis Obispo, California. The video is framed as a polaroid picture that captures the sunniness of the song.

http://grandlake.bandcamp.com/track/christmas-california

Grand Lake – Christmas, California from Ryan Terzian on Vimeo.

Let’s review:

-new EP by Grand Lake, “Leaves Ellipse” is available for download here and here

-you should go to one of those sites to purchase the EP after you listen to this new single and watch the video.

-thanks.

Grand Lake - "Leaves Ellipse"

EP review: Grand Lake – "Leaves Ellipse"

Grand Lake are following up last years exacting, skilled and expansive album “Blood Sea Dream” with an EP that plays their hand a little closer to their chest. “Leaves Ellipse” features intimate, homespun, heartfelt melodies brought to life with the stripped down sound of acoustic guitar with clear arrangements. There is less of a focus on lead lines and the layered material that drove most of “Blood Sea Dream”.

The tunes are just as catchy but the band seems to present them in a way that is far less earnest and instead tug at the heartstrings. That the EP was recorded in small rooms in the houses of friends helps to this end. The clear and intimate, friendly tone resonates throughout. We already know how amazingly talented this band is, and now they are letting the emotions shine through in a way that was previously somewhat shrouded. It’s good to hear them have the bravery to strip away the layers and put a delicate, yet polished, side up for display.

Not that “Blood Sea Dream” was an overly electrified album, featuring shrieks of distorted electric guitars. Nor is that album completely opposite of the warmth of this EP. That album certainly has its moments of detached emotion from afar and some tunes have acoustic foundations, but the layers are piled on making the insides hard to see or feel. That’s essentially the difference with the “Leaves Ellipse” EP.

String arrangements on “City Leaves”, and throughout, sound cleaner and fit better than any of the strings on their previous effort. The ambiance is matched and they sound more a part of the ensemble instead of an addition or extra layer or afterthought. That being said the recording itself even sounds like it is coming from a closer place than the echoed expanses that “Blood Sea Dream” permeated.  What struck me upon my first couple of listens was the way that the guitar tone and style characteristics present on the first album are carried over. Style is something that a band can’t really run away from. More often than not it will take at least a few releases before a style emerges. Not so with Grand Lake. This is amazing for the fact that “Leaves Ellipse” expends so much effort stripping things away. They have managed to clear away everything down to their essence. A daring move.

Grand Lake - "Leaves Ellipse"

“Leaves Ellipse” is not only mostly acoustic but there is only a very small amount of lead fills that even occur across the EPs 20 minutes, the most notable of which are featured in the closing track “Which Days Were Those Days”. That song, by the way, is a moving song that speaks of fondness for the past, remembrance and longing. It’s a song that comes to grips with the fact that change is eternal. Second track, “Christmas, California” is the most upbeat track and is full of catchy hooks. There are subtle rhythmic and metric changes in a clear, simply stated presentation. There is nothing extra and the song doesn’t go on for a second longer than it has to.

Following “Christmas, California” is the standout track “City Leaves”. Its walking bass and delicate backdrop of strings are the perfect accompaniment to the moving lyrics that repeat “waiting and waiting and waiting for sometime to happen.” To me these lyrics speak of if-onlys and what-ifs. What would happen if we just got up and followed our dreams instead of sitting around and waiting for things to happen to us? What would become of us? Is our passion matched by the people that love us, and if not, how does that play into our own plans for life? The longing is portrayed by droning strings throughout the verse that lurch into a broken rhythm in the chorus that seems to represent the desire to get up and move, to make things happen that only return to that drone in the verse. Strings play an important role in “Silver Leaves” as well, which also includes some interesting metric shifts in the chorus.

“Leaves Ellipse” was recorded in “takes”, rather than relying heavily upon punching-in and overdubs. Not that there aren’t overdubs, but each track was done in a single take, rather than editing, combining and splicing to create an aura of perfection and spotlessness. What is gained, I feel, is far more significant than can be achieved through all of the technological wizardry and that is the intimacy of a well rehearsed ensemble. Grand Lake has sidestepped technologically gained perfection in favor of cohesion of sound.

Buy the EP from Amazon and iTunes

EP closer “Which Days Were Those Days” here.

And their cover of Radiohead’s “The Tourist” on The Hype Machine.

And watch the video for that track on Vimeo down below:

Grand Lake – Which Days Were Those Days? from Ryan Terzian on Vimeo.