Sunday, July 30th, 2006
Sunday Cleaning – Volume 43
|Greg Laswell / Through Toledo (Vanguard)
It’s no secret that I can be a little tough on singer-songwriter types, so when I say that San Diegan Greg Laswell’s new record Through Toledo really impressed on first listen, that’s saying something. Written, performed and produced entirely by Laswell, Through Toledo is a lovely slice of adult-ish pop. Heavy on melancholy but also hooky and melodic and able to range from delicacy to rocking out without ever sounding forced or overwhelming Laswell’s emotive, weary rasp. There’s actually something very Coldplay-ish about this record, but only in a positive sense – replace Chris Martin’s empty platitudes and arena rock gestures with real emotional depth and intimacy, for example. I’m actually somewhat surprised how much I’m enjoying this record, but I do/am/whatever the gramatically correct way to end this sentence is. Laswell plays the Horseshoe on August 16 with ex-Jayhawk Tim O’Reagan. It’s a free show – there’s no excuse not to check it out.
|Anathallo / Floating World (Nettwerk)
High school band geeks owe Sufjan Stevens a debt of gratitude. By making earnest, orchestral indie rock cool, he’s opened the door for bands like Mount Pleasant, Michigan’s Anahtallo to do their thing which is, well, earnest, orchestral indie rock. But while part of what makes Stevens’ work so appealing is how he tempers the musical lushness with a necessary amount of understatedness and irony, Anathallo are deadly serious in a way that only kids just out of their teens, and who used to be (or still are) emo kids, can be. And if you thought that an album for each of the fifty states was pretentious, consider that Floating World is a concept album based on a Japanese folk tale. But also consider that I am a grumpy old man and don’t understand kids these days and their music. Anathallo are at the Opera House August 5 with The Format.
|The Pantones / Sleepless Nights, Silent Mornings (Phonophore)
The weepy pedal steel guitar and fiddles that permeates this record certainly says country, but there’s something bright-eyed (not Bright Eyes) and optimistic about Matthew Carlson’s voice that won’t let The Pantones sob into their beer. Gram Parsons is an obvious reference point and Carlson certainly knows and embraces it – consider the title of this album and of their debut, Cosmic Americana. But it’s sort of refreshing to hear someone willing to wear their influences on their sleeve, and The Pantones certainly do that. Clean, polished Americana is the order of the day and The Pantones serve it up in spades and serve it with a smile.
np – Oneida / Happy New Year