>> Featured Artist: Immaculate Machine
With Fables released last week, I realize I'm a bit behind in covering it. So, as I did with Boxer, I'm going to highlight a past cut and get to the new album in the coming weeks.
I like this band not just because they opened at one of the best shows I've seen in the past few years (New Pornographers, 9:30 Club, October 2005), but because this band is fun and they sound like they're having fun. "No Such Thing As the Future" perfectly displays this - turning a cynical view of times to come is much more of a carpe diem number than it is an end-of-the-world piece.
What the band lacks - purposely - in gravity is made up in pep and catchy arrangements. Kathryn Calder and Brooke Gallupe have voices that harmonize in a Mates of State way - which gives it an urgency you don't always find in straight power pop. All this is to sayI'm excited to dig into Fables.
>> Album Lookout: The Fragile Army
I've never been a huge Polyphonic Spree guy, always getting a little put off by the airiness of the lyrics and the over-the-top arrangements.
That said, The Fragile Army is getting some great reviews - and who can resist that album cover? Still, the way the band has broken each track into section numbers (with parenthetical subtitles) irks me.
My test track was "Section 29 (Light to Follow)." Immediately, I was a bit shocked by the electronic intro. In fact, the arrangement grows in a way that is both interesting and not irritating. And the lyrics, while still a bit universal and lofty, are much more palatable. In the end, it's still the same band that can write the songs that can send shivers up your back while watching a commercial.
Combined, "Light to Follow," the rave reviews and that damn cover have more than piqued my interest and make me wonder if this could be The Life Pursuit of 2007?
Sometimes I just need a little Matthew Sweet pop music. It's taken me to the store to buy The Thorns album (which has Shawn Mullins on it - yeah...) and his syrupy vocals have made me like unnecessary cover songs that just aren't that good.
He's the kind of guy who, back in the late '50s and early '60s, would have been working in the Brill Building pumping out hit after hit. Instead, he was a minor solo success in the mid '90s - certainly one of the best of all the ugly white guy songwriters from that era.
If "Not When I Need It" doesn't hook you right away, wait until the sign-off a cappella coda that comes straight out of the Brian Wilson playbook. I swear I even hear Carl Wilson singing in there...