The Proper Ornaments have finally released a proper debut album. After last summer’s download only download only release on Lo which compiled their previous EP on No Pain in Pop,their debut single on Make a Mess, and some odds and ends the duo of James Hoare and Max Claps have employed Slumberland Records to issue their album Wooden Head. James Hoare who’s main band is Veronica Falls and also moonlights in the Ultimate Painting is a busy guy these days. For the Proper Ornaments he’s teamed up with Argentinian and one-time Andrew Loog Oldham protege Max Claps.
The duo met in a shop that Hoare was working at while Claps’s girlfriend attempted to steal a pair of boots. It’s amazing what a shared love of the Velvet Underground can overcome. Named after a Free Deign Song, they get a lot of comparisons to the Beach Boys, the Left Banke and Love. But if you ask my I think they sound like the Chills.
Wooden Head is nearly as good as their No Pain In Pop EP, but I don’t know if I think that because the EP had five astonishingly good good with no filler. It was easy to take in while Wooden Head is bigger and requires more time to consume. The record is astonishingly good, it just requires more time to your head around. Hoare and Claps sing in unison on nearly every song. Their melancholy, sparse psychedelic songs have a sing-song quality that makes them both comfortable and haunting at once. Each unassuming song buzzes into your ears to create endorphin rushes, but music being like a drug it takes more to recreate that initial high each time.
stream: The Proper Ornaments – Magazine (Wooden Head is out on Slumberland Records)
In Seattle, waiting for the summer can be excruciating. Some locals say it starts the day after independence day. Others say it doesn’t get here until Bastille Day. Some years you look forward to it for so long and then it arrives for three or four weeks and then is gone. Fleeting, as they say.
I have been patiently waiting for next Proper Ornaments record since their supremely satisfying EP that came out on No Fear In Pop back in 2011. Unlike summer the day of its release is firmly set as 21 June, the summer solstice. The proper start of summer.
Proper Ornaments are the duo James Hoare of Veronica Falls and Max Claps. The single is called appropriately enough Waiting for Summer and it is a sparse and shimmering little number that may remind you of the Clientele, the Chills or Hopkirk & Lee. It will very likely you coat you in a thin layer of warmth as the northern hemisphere slowly tilts towards the sun.
Look out for a full length Proper Ornaments album sometime later this summer.
stream: The Proper Ornaments – Waiting For the Summer (from single on Lo Recordings)
I had no idea the Proper Ornaments had a new five song EP out until reading about it over at the Austin Town Hall blog. Their 7″ from last year was good, but this new EP is pretty near brilliant. The band who take their name from a Free Design song share a member in James Hoare with Veronica Falls. Veronica Falls have an affection for the jangly side of the seminal Flying Nun label from New Zealand Flying Nun label. Proper Ornaments do too, but tend toward the more psychedelic side of things. The Bats come to mind, as does the moodier side of the Chills and even some non-New Zealand blood in the stylish pop of the Eric Mathews/Richard Davies collaboration Cardinal. The songs have an elegant translucent quality that floats them into your conscious quickly but they have long-acting mechanisms that keep them in your system. Since hearing this EP, I seem to go into withdrawal if I don’t play it every half hour. I think I may be addicted.
The record is available from No Pain In Pop.
stream: The Proper Ornaments – Who Thought