Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The Autumns - Fake Noise From A Box Of Toys

Label: Bella Union
Release Date: 10/2007

Dream-pop wakes up. Big time.

The Los Angeles-based band The Autumns are back with a new record Fake Noise From A Box of Toys, just in time for fall 2007. This album shattered my expectations and is easily my favorite record by the band.

The Autumns prove on the opening tracks "Boys" and "Clem" that they can deliver more than just sugary dream-pop tunes. These two outstanding tracks are loaded with aggressive guitars, whirling vocals, poppy choruses, and driving beats that will surprise you.

However, if you still want the sugary dream-pop, The Autumns provide some familiar sounds on track 4 "The Midnight Knock" and track 10 "The Beautiful Boot". Overall, the Brit-pop vibe prevails. "Glass Jaw" and "Adelaide" will smack you in the head if you're caught dreaming.

Other songs like ''Night Music", "Only Young", "Uncle Slim", also worth noting for their singable choruses and delightful melodies. The record ends passionately with "Oh My Heart", which turned out to be my favorite of the 12 songs.

The Autumns' enhanced pop sensibility and rock intensity will appeal to a wider audience, while still differentiating themselves from their contemporaries. Old-school Autumns fans need not worry, though, because there's still plenty of noise in this box of toys.

Check out some songs from Fake Noise From A Box Of Toys here.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Gileah and The Ghost Train - (Self-Titled)

Label: The Love Library
Release Date: 10/23/07

Every once in a while a CD comes along that has so much vitality and substance that it actually makes the most cynical indie music listener love music again.

Gileah and the Ghost Train not just a band. It's the song in your head. It's the struggle you endure. It's the pain you feel. It's the doubt that lingers. It's the hope we all look forward to. More than music, Gileah and The Ghost Train takes you on a journey from the pit of despair to the peak of hope in a span of 35 minutes.

Gileah and the Ghost Train's sound has evolved enormously from their debut release The Golden Planes. Gileah Taylor's vocals have matured, the soundscape is much fuller, the lyricism is more advanced, and the record moves at a lightning pace. The instrumentation is complete with guitars, piano, percussion, strings, sound effects, etc. This train is on a mission and it rarely slows down and doesn't make any stops. There's a perfect mix of high-tempo and slow tunes so the listener remains fully engaged.

As for the music, I cannot help but draw comparisons to Sixpence None The Richer, Cat Power, and The Sundays. Gileah Taylor's voice is a chameleon. It can change from a sweet tone reminiscent of Leigh Nash and then on the next track take on a darker tone like that of Chan Marshall. But just because their sound reminds you of other bands doesn't mean Gileah doesn't bring anything new and fresh to the table. They combine the best of their predecessors to bring you some of the best folk-indie-pop that you haven't heard.

Track 1 "The Devil" sets a deceptively ominous tone for the record with vocals that are smoky and sultry alongside piano and sparse guitar which eventually erupt into a rousing mix of everything the band can throw at you.

Track 2 "The Emergency" continues the somber tone and Cat Power-esque vocal stylings. This time the pace is faster and you'll be singing along to the great chorus.

Track 3 "The Escape" reminds me of Sixpence None the Richer right from the first note. This song demonstrates how Gileah's voice can change on a whim to a sweeter, higher tone. Another great pop song that is quite addictive and singable, Gileah adds a sense of swagger and confidence to the vocals.

Track 4 "The Lazarus" introduces some light into the darkness with a more hopeful tone and chorus of :

One day it's gonna be alright...
One day It's gonna be alright when you rise.
Track 8 "The Shadow" is an outstanding song that has a rockin' pace and will stand out as one of your favorites. Sing it - the lyrics are included!

Gileah saves the best for last. Track 10 "The Spirit" is a happy song. It's also very honest and real. This inspiring song has an interesting synth intro and also the best chorus on the album:

At last my voice will joined with a thousand others
one sweet chorus
all of us singing hallelujah!

All I can say is if you like Cat Power and Sixpence (or Indie-Folk-Pop in general) than you shouldn't hesitate to check out this wonderful band at . I cannot possibly recommend this CD with any more enthusiasm.
~John M.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Kissing Cousins - EP3

Label: Velvet Blue Music
Release Date: December 2006

This all-girl, no-nonsense band from L.A. has released their third EP and prove that they get better with each release (or should I say, "kiss"?).

Here's a kiss-by-kiss synopsis:

Track 1: "Weigh The Options". A mid-tempo tune that is brimming with lush string arrangements, sparse guitar parts, and somber vocals by Heather. These elements work together to set a formidable and unnerving mood that looms and swells throughout the song.

Track 2: "One-Eyed Woman". This rock song pulls no punches and sucks you in immediately. It's got the down-right-dirty vocals, driving guitars, and a singable chorus that drips of 1980s rock influences. Do I hear a flute in the background as well? Yes, this song has it all. Clearly, this is the best song of the four. It would be the obvious choice for a radio single. Damn, I wish I had a radio show.

Track 3: "Silhouettes". This is a live version of the song from their first EP. The track is basically unchanged, but the rawness of the live performance makes it even better than the original version. My guess is you'll like this version better too, especially if you haven't been able to catch a live show. The end of this live version is pretty amazing.

Track 4: "Take From Me". It's a slow-tempo tune with just voice and piano. The song is laced with simplicity, but is equally honest and meaningful. This song is effective because of the passionately sung vocals that convey a sense of sincerity and transparency.

There's nothing not to love about this band. Since they have released only EPs and no LPs, it's perfect listening for those of us who love great music but have short attention spans.

Hear some songs from EP3 at the Kissing Cousins Myspace page.

~John M.