Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Syd Arthur's Sophomore Like, Psychedelicious, Man

Syd Arthur - Sound Mirror
-out now
4 / 5

Psychedelic foursome Syd Arthur know good music. Taking their moniker from ex-Pink Floyder Barrett and mashing it with one of our favorite albums by the Kinks, the Canterbury-based rockers' sophomore full-length is replete with poly-chromatic instrumentation (including piano!), soaring choruses, and shifting time signatures. It is educated, conscious of bands not only before their time (Pink Floyd, The Who, perhaps the Doors) but also of contemporaries (Portugal. The Man). It is vibrant: pulsating with life, entertaining, fresh. It is, in short, a delight.

When the piano hammers out the opening lick to "Hometown Blues," we definitely feel that Who vibe, a bit percussive, bursting into the hypnotic chorus. Joyous strings lay it out for "What's Your Secret," and if you haven't been exhausted in musical pleasure by the time "Chariots" comes on, then you might be unaffected by the ecstasy of the next explosive chorus. Sound Mirror may have a weakness to it, in that it isn't a Who's Next, that it's not quite a classic in and of itself, though hopefully it's on the way to one. This is an album full of great songs, and maybe a little short (though at 35 minutes, that's more subjective), yet each spin is fresh, likely due to those weird time sigs throughout.

A great album by a relative unknown. Modern psychedelia doesn't need to be P.TM's territory anymore; this one comes highly recommended.

Groovy singles on Soundcloud, man.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Hardly Criminal Hardly Worth Chasing

Crash - Hardly Criminal
Community Music
- out May 6
2.5 / 5

Louisiana-native Christopher Richard belts one out - exactly one - on his debut full-length. The setlist is diverse, soul to folk to rock, but these songs lack that je ne sais quoi - actually, we can say what it is they lack: really provoking performances. Richard connects with his music, but can't seem to get that music to connect with the listener. How can we tell? We've listened to the album a handful of times, and to us, there's still only one song on it. The rest, one could say, is a blur.

It's painful for us to get a great, soulful song on an album of sleepy underperformers, but that's what Hardly Criminal amounts to. We're not quite sure what to do with the goofy, folksy "All My Friends," which feels like a song Richard plays for his own enjoyment. It's hard to single out other songs that simply don't get there, like "Britches Catch Fire" (which has nice, ghostly vocals at least), so we're going to spend a bit more time on the single we think you should hear. "Motion Animal" is one of those groovy little gems that pops out of the woodwork here, one part soul, one part dance, three parts sheer tongue-in-cheek fun. We're not quite sure where this one came from, but we know we want more of that.

Otherwise, we have to put the breaks on Crash. For the price of a dollar (or Youtube video) you can get your enjoyment out of this album. Take a pass.