Commentary While Listening

Sometimes just blurting out what you think is more fun than actually thinking things through and formulating an opinion. I was down in the basement tonight listening to records and what follows are my stream of conscious reviews of what I listened to.

Mantles Bad Design – Cave-like rock, reverb vocals (looking forward to this trend winding down).  Nice guitar solo.  This is as poppy as Don’t Lie, the best song on their album that came out on Siltbreeze.
MantlesRachel – A little heavier and more warped than the A-side, but it still has that ringing guitar that lightens it up a bit.

(Art Fag)
Best CoastSun Was High (So Was I) – And to think I almost didn’t buy this. Wow what a great A-side. Again with the reverb vocals, but it’s not too distracting.  I hope the reverb vocal isn’t to the late aughts what the echo/synth drums was to the 80’s.
Best CoastSo Gone – Simple song that could have easily been a Shangri-La’s song 40 years ago.
Best CoastThat’s the Way Boys Are – This single is easily 3 for 3.  Love the heyyy-eyyy’s.  This record is pretty perfect and the cover of a 70’s jammed LA freeway is nice too.

Girls At DawnNever Enough – First thought: Tiger Trap.  If you thought the Vivian Girls sounded like Tiger Trap you were wrong.  Girls at Dawn do. Very minimalist guitar strumming, a bit of organ and little girl singing. Catchy, especially for record collector geeks like myself.
Girls At DawnEvery Night – Lots of Da Da Da’s and lyrics about dreaming about you every night…that’s why they call it a b-side.

Nat Johnson
(Damaged Goods)
Nat Johnson & The FigureheadsWonderful Emergency – Okay, finally someone that doesn’t hide behind reverb’d vocals.  Nat has left Monkey Swallows the Universe, but is still walkin’ on sunshine.  It’s bright and poppy with a bass solo at the bridge.
Nat Johnson & The FigureheadsDon’t Worry Baby – Yes, it’s a Beach Boys cover, from Pet Sounds no less.  Not sure about it though, it’s kind of a non-event.  I think my mom would like this song, but she would prefer the original, as do I.

Fergus & Gernimo
(Tic Tac Totally!)
Fergus & GeronimoBlind Muslim Girl – I have no idea what this song is about but it is catchy as hell.  “Blind Muslim girl, if you like me then I will guide you around the world”.  This song is so fast paced that I thought I had it on the wrong speed.  Love the bouncy guitar parts at the bridge.
Fergus & GeronimoPowerful Lovin’ – Blues organ and singing, not unlike the A-side to their Transparent 7″.  These guys bring it, love the soul aspect to their songs.

(Underwater Peoples)
Frat DadGreg the Nerd – This one’s noisy and devolves into more noise.  I like the team singing and the geeky enthusiasm.  They’re like a lower-fi Nodzzz, singing about elementary school.
Frat DadFreak In Nature – Much mellower b-side, well at first, then it swells into a big bombastic chorus.  I like the restraint and then the wild abandon.  B-side wins!

Signed PapercutsOf My Heart – Airy guitars that remind me of St. Christopher.  This song evokes wind in your face and swirling leaves in a one of those mini-tornadoes and the Icicle Works.  Big Wedding Present-ish crashing guitars at the end. Whew, I’m out of breath!
Signed PapercutsSound of Silence Pt. 2 – The guitars sound almost exactly the same as the a-side except the song isn’t as good and neither is the singing. The a-side is definitely what you want here.

Explode Into ColorsCoffins – This band is supposedly the best new band in Portland.  Will hyperbole never die?  It’s got a cool drum thing going on.  Big booms, lots of big booms. The singer has this kind of old lady southern drawl to how she sings/chants.  I like the drums.
Explode Into ColorsSharpen the Knife – More drums and more tribal-like chanting/singing.  She’s got kind of a Siouxsie thing going on, but enough to make me really like this.

The VibrariansRed Light – Great guitar riff. Can’t understand a word the singer’s singing for all the reverb, but that’s not the point I don’t think. This could be an Oh Sees song, in fact you could tell people that and they might believe you. This came out a while ago but didn’t seem to get much attention, probably because Olympia isn’t cool like it was back in the late 80’s and early 90’s.
The VibrariansModern Walker – These guys are all about the riff and sound. This one’s like a marching riff with vocals echoing all over the place. Did I mention they sound like Thee Oh Sees?
The VibrariansThe Woods – I can actually make out a few lyrics here, but I still don’t care because the song just rocks in that same cave stomping style of the other two . I wonder if they take the Liz Frasier approach to lyrics?


  1. Ben · November 6, 2009

    I’m making a date with the record shop to buy those Fergus and Geronimo and Best Coast singles. Great tips.

  2. Daniel · November 6, 2009

    Oh I love that Girls At Dawn 7″. I think I’ll even go as far as to say that The Girls At Dawn and Pens are my favourites of all the noisy girl fronted bands that have made, ehm, noise the last two years

  3. Toby · November 9, 2009

    Ben, Just saw this morning that there is a third Best Coast 7″ out on Black Iris.

  4. tom · November 12, 2009

    thanks for some thoughts on the Girls at Dawn. I picked it up this past weekend, and gave it one listen…and I was pretty disappointed…I needed another view point to look at it with when I return to it. I love Tiger Trap so much…maybe that will make me like the GaD 7″?

  5. Toby · November 12, 2009

    Tom, I’m not entirely convinced about Girls at Dawn either. It’s not bad, but that’s not exactly a ringing endorsement. Have you heard anything from their new Captured Tracks 12″?

  6. tom · November 13, 2009

    No haven’t heard the CT 12″ yet, but Hozak singles aren’t cheap…and I’m not sure I would sink the money into the 12″ without hearing it first. Chances are they will end up opening a show that I go to soon…and that will be the true test. I mean there is lots of competition in the lo-fi girl group category right now…and Dum Dum Girls and Grass Widow have definitely taken the lead in my opinion.

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