Sunday, July 13th, 2008
Sunday Cleaning – Volume 94
|For Against / Shade Side Sunny Side (Words On Music)
Readers of the long-running indie/punk-rock journal The Big Takeover have likely learned to take the recommendations of editor Jack Rabid seriously, since if you read the magazine your musical tastes probably align reasonably well with his. So when you’ve got a band like Nebraska’s For Against whose last two releases, not counting last year’s reissue of In The Marshes, have been Rabid’s #1 ranked review in the issue they’re featured in, they’re probably worth investigating.
Despite their middle America origins, For Against’s influences are wholly Anglo – in particular, the transitional period between ’80s post-punk and ’90s shoegaze that appeared on labels such as 4AD and Factory and produced such underappreciated acts as The Chameleons and Kitchens Of Distinction (though neither was associated with those two labels, I know). Shade Side Sunny Side, their first album in six years following some lineup shuffles and a hiatus, is another collection of shimmering guitars, keening vocals and melodies that always seem to drift towards the unconventional. And while the ingredients may be the same as those typically used to craft hazy dreampop, For Against infuse everything with an urgency and darkness that’s decidedly atypical for the genre. The ensuing listening experience is a bit difficult and a bit unsettling, but ultimately rewarding.
|A Classic Education / First EP (independent)
Italy is well known for exporting all sorts of wonderful goods, but rock music is not usually one of them. Bologna-based outfit A Classic Education is a welcome exception, though it should be noted that they have Canadian roots as well in the form of singer Jonathan Clancy. Their first release – available only as a 12″ EP – is a collection of songs recorded at various points in the band’s young existence and despite a morphing lineup and their obviously trying to pin down their sonic identity, is a commendably solid effort. Lead track “Stay, Son” sets the bar high by putting Clancy’s rock’n’roll rasp and the band’s orchestral inclinations to grandiose use and while the rest of the recordings don’t quite measure up to that first salvo – some tracks don’t feel as fully realized as they probably/possibly could – but as a debut it’s an achievement.