Sunday, November 13th, 2005
Sunday Cleaning – Volume 14
|The Morning After Girls / Prelude: EP’s 1 & 2 (Rainbow Quartz)
A bit of a departure signing for the mainly power-pop Rainbow Quartz label, Melbourne, Australia’s Morning After Girls offer a druggy, psychedelic stew that’s stylistically all over the map. There’s strummy folkish numbers, screamy punky numbers, hip-shaking dancey numbers… you name it, The Morning After Girls take a swing at it. Some of it is raucous, some of it is dreamy, but there’s a definite dopamine haze over top of everything. I don’t want to use the Brian Jonestown Massacre as a reference point because everyone else has, but really – when you’re right, you’re right.
As the title implies, this release is actually a collection of their first two EPs – their debut full-length, Evolve, is out in Australia this week. Any attempts to gauge the band’s evolution by comparing earlier and later tracks on Prelude are stymied by the fact that their running order is mixed up, presumably to offer a more cohesive album-like experience. And it actually works quite well – without being told, you probably wouldn’t guess that this wasn’t a singularly conceived long-player. Side note – one of the tracks also features ghostly vocals from Mark Gardener, with whom they toured earlier this Fall in North America as support for Black Rebel Motorcycle Club.
|The Snowdonnas / Over Now/Hold And Release
Okay, this is a bit of an odd one. The album above is actually two years old, though I was sent a copy of it in May along with a CD-R of material that was earmarked for a new EP but is now going to be part of their next full-length, out next year sometime. So consider this a sort of look at the past/look at the future/to hell with the present sort of deal.
The Fort Worth, Texas band’s debut, Over Now, offers a rather typically American take on things, favouring a slower, tougher sound than one usually associates with classic British space rock bands. Also strangely typical of American bands in the genre, singer Timothy White’s voice is strong, but rather detached and emotionless. While some of the tracks plod along without really catching one’s attention, the middle part of the album holds some gems. All in all, while not wholly remarkable, there are definite signs of potential…
…Which began to be realized on the Sample & Hold EP, which was completed in the early part of this year but only found its way into the world via burned promo copies like the one I got while the band shopped for a label. The most obvious growth between the debut and this effort is the production – there’s a lot more going on sonically. The sound field is deeper, denser and more evocative, and there’s definitely more energy and confidence to be found in the newer material. The songcraft hasn’t taken huge strides forward and White’s voice still isn’t especially strong, but it’s all a hell of a lot more interesting to listen to now.
|Autumn Thieves (MySpace)
While the previous two bands flirt with shoegaze styles in varying degrees – Morning After Girls a bit, Snowdonnas a lot – New York’s Autumn Thieves are 100%, unabashed sneaker fetishists. Think Cocteau-esque vocals overtop JAMC walls of fuzz guitar and bass laid overtop dancey drum loops recalling the more butt-shaking moments of My Bloody Valentine, all produced by Andrew Weatherall (Primal Scream, One Dove). The ingredients are quite good and sometimes it clicks, but their insistance, whether deliberate or incidental, on using just a single repeating drum loop under each song keeps them from being great. While it does help with the danceability (though I don’t know if it’s physicially possible to get shoegaze fans to do anything but shuffle uncomfortable), it can get maddening to listen to from a song-appreciation point of view. Give these guys a bridge and they’d be unstoppable. Okay, maybe not unstoppable, but better.
np – Aimee Mann / The Forgotten Arm