Monday, June 02, 2008

Reviews of Music I Bought in Seattle, Part 1

In case you hadn't read my previous post about my trip to Seattle, I bought a lot of music while in the Emerald City. There are so many great, independent record stores in Seattle, thankfully. I spread my resources out at Sonic Boom, Silver Platters, and Easy Street. Here are a few of my purchases. I realize the first is like two years old and the other's been out since last year, but that's just what I bought.

Final Fantasy - He Poos Clouds
Two Hundred Ten Words: This is maybe the first and last band I purchased solely based on an article in the New York Times. It also may be the only band I've paid the cover to see, only to leave early because of a late starting time and work the next day. Final Fantasy may also be the only group I've forgotten about until the Times mentioned Owen Pallett and his one-man-band in a recent Sunday magazine article.

For those of you who are unfamiliar, Pallett combines the chamber punk of Rachel's with the looping showmanship of Built to Spill while connecting to the baroque pop of Arcade Fire. And he does all this with his piano, violin, and soft voice. He writes dark songs of loss and fear that are beautifully sinister.

Pallet's lyrics are loaded with the sort of loathing and depression not heard since Morrissey's heyday. Stories of unrequited love, the loneliness associated with fantasy, and the ultimate betrayal of a loved one haunt Final Fantasy records. The undertones of teen angst and suicide are prevalent throughout He Poos Clouds. However, for the uninitiated, this may not be as good a jumping off point as his previous work. This album is truer to Pallet's classical leanings and focus on anti-rock beauty.

The one song that makes it worth all that space in the Times: "This Lamb Sells Condos"

Number of Clouds He Pooed: 3.5

St. Vincent - Marry Me
Two Hundred Ninety Words: I hate it when I am drawn to an album based on a memorizing image. Then, I take that image and make my own back-story, trying to make sense of a band's media attention. Even when I start to see pics on my favorite blogs of said band's musical performances, I skip over the articles and try to make sense of it all. Finally, I read one article about the band, realize I'm way off base, buy the album, and never regret the purchase though it proves my instincts wrong.

This is my relationship to St. Vincent. I saw the album's cover photo and found myself fixated. The doe-eyed look, pasty-white skin, and semi-wild jet-black hair provide an indelible image I could not turn from. This also concerned me that the album might be a case of image over substance.

Well, upon hearing the record, I don't have to worry about that anymore. The portrait is of Annie Clark, the primary creator and performer in St. Vincent. What she creates is a sound that pulls wispy vocals that rival Feist, strength not heard since Exile in Guyville, and the sultriness of a Portishead. Clark attains the same creative fervor of Tori Amos without getting too whimsical. The versatility to reach all the heights of other female, solo performers is proudly displayed all over Marry Me, Clark's full-length debut.

Of course, her prowess knows no gender gap. The complex instrumentation stands up next to former co-performer Sufjan Stevens. She displays the creativity of moving beyond the rock/pop structures of her former bands to create something fresh and personal like Eric Bachman. Annie Clark put together a solid record that rivals any indie rock record I've heard in the last year.

The one song that makes it worth the Tori Amos comparisons: "Now Now"

Number of Curls in Clark's Hair: too many to count

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