Sunday, May 04, 2008

Pandering to the Locals: Two Reviews

Sinkane - Color Voice
Two Hundred Thirty-Six Words: Sinkane mastermind Ahmed Gallab has come a long way from playing in hardcore bands while attending The Ohio State University. The former Sudanese resident has found a home banging the skins in the states for his band as well as the likes of Caribou and a band to be named later.

In the meantime, Sinkane has released a wise-beyond-their-years debut on COMO's own Emergency Umbrella imprint. Color Voice is incredibly layered and complex with its torrential drumming, backwards guitar play, and waning woodwinds. But I have to go back to the drumming. The propulsive fervor with which Gallab bangs his kit is almost otherworldly. It is easy to see why Caribou sought the young man's services when their own drum
mer went down with an injury.

To me, the album seems more suited as an EP. The four songs total somewhere around 30 minutes and only give a taste of what's in store from this new talent. The idea that an EP gives the listener just a taste in anticipation of things to come helps build hype and a following that makes room for a much-anticipated full-length.

Of course, this record is an example of quality over quantity. There's no room for filler in four tracks. Although brief, the moments of genius contained within Color Voice are more than apparent. I look forward to whatever else this young Sudanese from Ohio has to offer the listening community.

The one song that makes it worth $17.95: "Autobahn"

Pitchfork Says: ???

Gentleman Auction House - Alphabet Graveyard
Four Hundred Four Words: Since the hardcore days of the eighties and the lo-fi days of the nineties, indie rock has come a long, long way. Bands are no longer winging it with few resources and too much naiveté. Today, they are part of intricate networks of record labels, clubs, and even bloggers. They use these connections to build careers out of rock 'n roll. This new underground has lasting power and in many cases, is far outproducing its corporate competition.

Gentleman Auction House is a perfect example of this new underground. The St. Louis band has built a solid following and has attracted the interest of larger indie labels through these networks. They recently played a live webcast thanks to a friendship with the guys over at Daytrotter. Things are looking up for another Emergency Umbrella act.

Of course, no matter how connected or sophisticated a band is, the music has to be good if there are any plans of longevity. I've seen so many bands build a ton of hype only to come crashing to earth once their ruse was up. The songs were superficial and built more on aesthetic than substance.

Luckily, GAH comes through with Alphabet Graveyard. The band's sound is varied and their song structures both play on conventionality and innovation to create an accessible record that stands out among the rubbish passing for alternative rock these days. What highlights GAH's sound is its diversity and sophistication. Of course, this should be expected from a seven-piece band that includes keys or all types, a myriad of percussion instruments, and the occasional horns.

This record might be Emergency Umbrella's most accessible release to date. Along with the diversity and connections, GAH's nod to indie rock forefathers makes this accessibility possible. The boy/girl hollers over jerky rhythms remind one of the first Starlight Mints' record (before they went downhill). The cool soulfulness from a Midwestern white boy recalls the ghost of Greg Dulli and his Afghan Whigs. (I know, Dulli's not dead.) The complex pop structures fit together with those of indie pop heroes, The New Pornographers.

Comparing Gentleman Auction House to other bands is lazy on my part and somewhat unfair to such a hardworking band. However, if we are to see how far underground music has come, we have to make connections with its past and future. Thankfully, bands like GAH keep popping up, making the indie scene better all the time.

The one song that makes it worth $17.95: "We Used to Dream About Bridges"

Pitchfork Says: ???

1 comment:

Lauren Kilberg said...

I really like Gentleman Auction House. I have their old album, need to pick up this one.