Monday, November 26, 2012

Don't sign up for Lindsay's Summer Wilderness Program

Jon Lindsay - Summer Wilderness Program
Bear Hearts Fox Records
-out now
2.5 / 5

We'll put this one quick for you all: lo-fi pophead Jon Lindsay is just too... lo-fi. We're not sure how that kind of thing happens, especially given our personal tastes, so give us a chance to explain. The bouncy, upbeat pop of Oregon-born Lindsay wants to evoke the simple pleasures of boyhood love (and heartache, natch) with a summery, blustery attitude similar to the Beach Boys less four. But Lindsay's voice isn't a Wilson-quality voice, and although his arrangements allow him command trumpet, sleigh bells and a handful of other instruments, the varying beats those instruments make all feel straightforward and somewhat feel cheap and borrowed. This is somewhat strange, considering how much he's written for the instrumentation, too (we think it's the very basic drumming). Moreover, the especially lo-fi quality of his music bites him in the bum, and hard: his slightly sub-par voice doesn't command the faded, very washed out supporting instruments convincingly, and the total product leaves our speakers sounding forty feet further away than they actually are. What is here should probably have pulled off a decent album, but Lindsay's somnambulistic execution, coated in a sheen of over- or under-production, robs Summer Wilderness of the simple pleasure it could easily have brought. About as fun as painting Tom Sawyer's fence for him minus the fumes; unless you like that kind of tedium, take a pass.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Buzzmutt's beauty not in Mind's Eye, either

Buzzmutt - Static in the Mind's Eye Chpt. 1
Self-released, online
2.5 / 5
-out now

Put four self-described indie noise-rockers hailing from San Fran in a room and what do you get? Hopefully not something like Buzzmutt's Static in the Mind's Eye, a dozen way underground tracks that aren't afraid to mimic any sonic sources, including an plane's extended flight ("The Trickster"). These tracks are angular and, yes, "indie"; so don't expect an easy way into them, or out of them, or around them even. Our issue with this release is the material's shade of pretense: these tracks are fairly basic, and it doesn't take much to imagine the kind of indie listener (i.e. very pretentious) who'd misuse phrases such as "alleviation of the music norms" to describe what Buzzmutt is doing here. Their song structure weighs much on monotone singing, decent but basic guitar riffs, and then a hefty smattering of extraneous noises (hence "Static") going around that don't factor a whole lot into the basic song. There are bands who can take some of these elements and spin it into gold, but what spins here isn't terribly complex, and it comes with that garage sound that good garage bands used to sound like before they became good. We're certainly pro-new-band-figuring-things-out, but they haven't crafted an album here, and we're going to get you guys to dodge this one.

Stream Buzzmutt at this inconspicuous link.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Big Science needs more of a challenge on Difficulty

Big Science - Difficulty
Self-released, online
-out now
3 / 5

The difficulty with albums ones like Chicago transplants Big Science is that they're not bad: it's a fair selection of classic-80s-inspired alt rock that the quartet has assembled here. But we've got to make the distinction to you guys (and/or gals) so it's gotta come down to whether you should purchase a release or not, and ultimately we're going to pass on this otherwise decent album. What is it lacking? We're not entirely sure; the song construction works on their confidently-paced "Loose Change Century" and the anthemic "Blind Our Eyes." When we hit "Headlight Song," the crew is still all working together rather well even if it's short of captivating. But what in Difficulty throttles us? Not a whole lot. These gentlemen are competent in their craft, but their debut here just doesn't have that special (apologies for the French) je ne sais quoi, that essence and life that makes a track last long after it's been played. It's the kind of insight that keeps us going back to the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and those hella-rockin' Canandians Bella Clava, some sort of recklessness and depth that comes out in the music that's lacking here. We think when these guys challenge themselves a bit harder, their performances will reach up to the level we're looking for. But until then, take a pass.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Bury Me a Lion digs up great talent on debut

Bury Me a Lion - Year of the Lion
Self-released, online
- out now
4 / 5

From out of nowhere comes this leaping lion at us from New York City, a quartet's worth of slightly punked modern rockers. Go ahead, spin up that opener; if "Be Your Own Bomb" doesn't swagger like a Mick Jagger then maybe you're hearing wrong - these guys are the real deal, and they sway with as much confidence as any sum of Strokes has. Actually, that's probably our best approximation to the Lion's sound: a Strokes kind of drive with a more enthused singer (and he's really solid to boot). Our other comparisons might include bands we rather despise - groups like Maroon 5 (for their energy) and other more pop-prone outfits - but the fact of the matter is we've got that link down there for y'all to check them out, and we're telling you to do just that. In this game, it's unfortunate that a lot of bands get buried and lost (buried - get it???) but sometimes that happens; unlike most of those guys just cutting their teeth, BMaL is ready and rip-raring to go, whether on their sundry straight rockers or on a somber one like "The Road." Try them. It's not their year yet, but they're going to get enough traction in the next few that you'll want to be in on the ground floor. Don't bury this one; recommended.

Check out their album (and buy if you likey) right on the LION!