Love is All – “I Ran (So Far Away)”
Love is All’s Flock of Seagulls cover–the surprising centerpiece of their tour’s Love is All Play 5 Covers EP–starts like a nervy deconstruction, akin to the Cure skittering through Hendrix’s “Foxy Lady.” But I should have known that the excitable Swedes wouldn’t pass on such a readymade soaring chorus. When Josephine’s waiting sidemen chime in with “A giiiiiirl liiike yoou-oooo” it immediately brings a smile to the face, but not because it’s being particularly clever, or ironic, or anything. They’re just earnestly belting it out like a couple of pals with a few beers under their belts. As with all of the band’s original compositions, the energy is infectious. The backing track is still full of all the post punk tics, the horn honks, the guitar scrapes, that we’ve come to expect, but not once does it ever detract from the undiluted anthemic fun that’s kept the song in near-constant radio rotation, long past other one-hit wonders of its time. The scrapes and scratches on the edges just construct an alternate 80s pop landscape where the no wave pioneers of the decade’s early years felt confident enough to throw some huge hooks in the middle of their experiments. It’s a lovely alternate reality to visit for 4 minutes (though please, please throw us a few bones about the status about the upcoming record, guys…).
High Places – “Vision’s the First”
It’s increasingly hard to describe the music of local favorites, High Places. Take Rob Barber’s backing track to new UK single “Vision’s the First” (available through Upset the Rhythm). I mean, I know that it’s mostly constructed and manipulated with samplers, but sampling what? I realized I had no clue when I started to type, “Barber’s shimmering…” with no idea how to accurately finish that sentence. “Soundscapes”? Blech. Well, whatever it is, it’s shimmering, all right? At least Mary Pearson’s plain, adorable vocals are easier to pin down. Her singing is modest and hopeful, gelling with the beat, but never dressing up to full diva proportions. This is a band who speaks to quiet moments, small victories, treasured personal discoveries. “The picture’s clear, but it’s going black/ and your favorite song’s still the hidden track,” she sweetly sings. She might have said “..still the limited release UK single,” if that weren’t such a horribly awkward lyric.
I’ve also been lusting after its 7″ b-side, “Namer,” since I saw it at the Market Hotel show earlier this year. Thankfully preserved by Pitchfork.tv…
High Places – “Namer”
It’s modest dance beat is strong as usual, but what really sells it is the soulful delivery Mary gives to the leaving home lyrics. It suggests that she might morph from a wide-eyed naif to a multi-faceted performer sooner than later. The full-length cannot come soon enough. September, via Thrill Jockey, is the word on the street.
A Sunny Day in Glasgow – “the Cemetery Flowers” (streaming on MySpace)
Our old friends from A Sunny Day in Glasgow have posted a new track, soon to be the a-side for a 7″ single distributed in a tiny batch of 300 from mail order label, Geographic North. As usual with an ASDIG song, the beguiling component parts of “the Cemetary Flowers” aren’t easy to decipher upon first blush. As a wildly important man with no time for headphoned guesswork (blatant lie-ed), I dropped Ben Daniels a line to clarify. Turns out that Ben plays all the instruments, though the key item is the stately electric mandolin. His mandolin has a rich tone that lies somewhere between an electric guitar and a modest string section. He described it as one of the hardest songs they’ve ever recorded, a process that took from November of 07 all the way through this past spring. It does sounds labored over, more structured and refined than early compositions. His sisters’ vocals are still lovely wisps of smoke, dissolving on touch, but also peppered with cute “ooo-ooo” disco whistles that ground their mysterious qualities with a more a playful air. Be still my heart–it even culminates in a handclap and synth workout! Ben swears that the arduous construction of the song lead to a svelte and concise b-side that surpasses this high bar. Only about 300 of you will be able to confirm or deny the claim, so you might want to get on that sooner than later…