Sunday, July 31st, 2005
Sunday Cleaning – Volume 1
So as I’ve mentioned in the past, people send me things. CDs mostly, often MP3s or MySpace links, sometimes books, sometimes DVDs. Some of it I work into regular posting, other stuff can fall by the wayside – not necessarily a reflection of the quality of the stuff (though sometimes it is), more often it’s simply a case of not enough time to give it the attention it may deserve. In the interests of clearing out my “To Listen To Pile” (AKA “The Guilt Pile”), I’m starting a semi-regular Sunday feature that I’m calling Sunday Cleaning.
Basically, I’ll try to review a few things a week. I’ll attempt to keep things eclectic. Some will be current, some will not. I don’t guarantee that I’ll have listened to things I review more than a couple times (if even), or that I’ll have the musical taste/context/knowledge to give it the due that someone more qualified might. Sometimes the reviews will seem a little flippant, dimissive or indifferent for that I apologize in advance. But remember – you sent me this stuff, most of the time I didn’t ask for it. You’ve been warned. The records reviewed in this column won’t be keeping with my usual mandate of talking about stuff I like or am interested in – this is about clearing out the backlog (not to mention taking a little pressure off the publishing schedule).
And without further ado.
Innaway offer up a blend of classic rock psychedelia with a light sprinkling of blues, served up in a laid-back SoCal fashion. While musically rooted in days of yore, Innaway keep it sounding fresh with more modern production values and touches of ambient and electronica. They work programmed beats into their sound without it being too obvious or out of place, something many bands have tried without as much success. And while they could surely get by coasting on singer/guitarist Jim Schwartz’s remarkable tenor, but the fact that they back it up with creative and impressive musicianship proves they could well be worth watching.
Kate Earl’s people sent me a huge-ass press kit. Colour photocopies, stickers, temporary tattoos, a lock of hair, all very impressive. I didn’t look at any of it. I have to think that press clippings and fashion shoots from teen magazines and whatnot could only work against my impressions of Ms Earl, so I figured I’d just listen to the record and give a go. Hailing from Alaska but now based out of LA, Earl is blessed with a sweet, pure voice and fittingly, her debut is a pleasant, inoffensive slice of upbeat MOR focused on themes of love and self-discovery – you know, the usual. The album has enough genre-hopping to allow for maximum market appeal (R&B? Jazz? Pop? Folk? Check check check and check) and features some A-list session musician talent (Jon Brion, Wendy Melvoin, Pete Thomas). With the proper PR people, there’s no reason Kate Earl couldn’t find her own niche in the adult-contemporary market.
Audio available on her MySpace page.
Unabashedly wearing their influences in their name, Halifax’s Satellite Rides trade in rootsy pop-rock. They don’t have Rhett Miller’s incisively clever lyricism or vocal prowess and aren’t as twang-ified as their namesakes (that’s Dallas’ Old 97s, if you were wondering), but the guitar work is pretty damn sharp and the songs hooky enough to soundtrack a good night out at the local social club. Their recorded output comprises a single self-released, self-titled EP, a couple of tracks from which you can hear below:
Hmm, most of the stuff in this first edition was at least polite. But don’t worry – I know there’s stuff to come that’s just DIRE. Knives out, fellas. Knives out.
np – The Replacements / Pleased To Meet Me