Posts Tagged ‘Captured Tracks’

EZTV – “Daytime”

A nice little one off from RSTB faves EZTV today. The band is about to embark on a scant East Coast tour with Ex Hex and the video serves as non-album bonus in preparation. The song is breezy as hell, dipping into their well of jangles full force. “Daytime” is swelling with ennui, recounting the pleasures of wandering aimlessly. While its no new album proper, its a great extra from an oft underrated band. The accompanying video has a day in the life quality of touring, which is pleasant, but mostly just serves as some nice drapery on a great track.

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Mourn

With the pall of their label skirmishes firmly behind them, Spanish punks Mourn push their sound bigger and harder for their third album, Sopresa Familia. The band processes punk and post-punk, grunge and gloom into a record that fully embraces guitar rock in an age when being a young guitar band has lost its gloss. They scratch through the tracks on the LP with an intensity and vigor that’s matched only by the breadth of their touchstones, flinging the dark rumble of The Sound and The Church through the grit and gravel of Husker Du. They pull their vision of pop across the same scarred stones that produced the flayed bare honesty of PJ Harvey. Like many of the best bands of their generation, they’ve taken the advantage of having deep wells of music available at their whims and used it to build a sound that doesn’t draw divisions, instead they collage eras with ease.

The band can curl up into some tender moments over the course of Sopresa Familia, but they wind up at their best when the hurricane crunch of guitar is at a full tilt and looking to level. They’ve built a record on the edge, and given their past frustrations with the music industry, its not hard to see how this could wind up a record fueled by angst and restlessness. From the firecracker snap of “Barcelona City Tour” – which reminds me in a very good way of Afrirampo – to the slow simmer ‘n blow of “Strange Ones,” this is a record that’s not content to keep a poker face. The album bubbles over with fury, joy, frustration and relief. Its no time to keep a lid on the pot, Mourn remind us that catharsis is not just an indulgence, it’s a right.




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Beach Fossils

You know, its been a while since I reviewed a Beach Fossils release and for good reason, its been nearly four years since their last. They’ve steadily built on the sound that hooked me on their debut, but with Somersault they finally shake off the trappings that come with being a Captured Tracks jangle band and grow exponentially. Leaving Captured Tracks for their own Bayonet Records may have something to do with the freedom of sound, but its not without noting that this sounds like the biggest and likely most expensive Beach Fossils record. Not that money makes a good record, but they’ve certainly used it wisely to flesh out the lush orchestrations and mature sound of Somersault.

Age likely plays into songwriter Dustin Payseur’s transition to a cleaner, crisper and more enveloping sound. The songwriter edged into his 30’s while this release was under way and, in NYC years, that brings about more of the quarterlife musings than a true-life 25. He’s touching on the transitions of friendships that happen at this mile-marker, the disillusionment with the city as it begins to ebb further from the artist’s environment and an even deeper disillusionment with one’s country as it begins to drift into political tastes that sour the tongue and wear on the soul.

At it’s core though Somersault is a record about who you surround yourself with, friends and family — surrogate families of the kind that spring up in the city. Paired with the band’s equally introspective songwriting and reliance on orchestration on this album this makes for their best recording to date. The band is slipping the veneer of their old ’80s heroes and transitioning into a new set; trading in The Wake for late period Felt. Though, to be fair they really seem to just using those influences as a jumping off point these days. This is the world as it twists about Beach Fossils in blurred tones of comfort and depression. It’s the sound of a band coming into their own, the scrappy Brooklyn kids replaced with artists looking to make a record that will outlive them all. They may well have done just that.




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The Stray Trolleys – Barricades and Angels

If you’ve paid any attention to the outpouring of albums tied up in Captured Tracks’ admirable reissue campaign for Cleaners From Venus, perhaps it comes as no surprise that there’s even more in the well of Martin Newell. The Cleaners’ driving force has a deeper music history than the band’s massive catalog, having spent years in Gypp and a brief period of time mounting up as The Stray Trolleys. The latter is documented here, with their sole album getting a bit of spit and polish and a nice new reissue on the label. The album came out of Newell’s previous ties and obligations (band, relationship, house) sort of dissolving and there’s a shaggy sense of ‘screw it’ in the tracks, though coated in a winking pop charm. Recorded by friend and engineer Dave Hoser to a 4-track named “The Octopus Mobile,” the tracks don’t sound at all like castaways or toss offs, rather they embrace a fuller sound and roguish sheen.

Certainly employing a higher clarity than his work with The Cleaners, Newell captures a sound that was under the thrall of ’60s jangles but headed towards their immersion into a new brand of ’80s pop. There’s always been a draw to the rawness of The Cleaners’ work, but this has a charm that lays it in a space between the quirks of Deep Freeze Mice and the horizon that begat Elvis Costello or Nick Lowe. Even for those intimidated by the dense catalog that Cleaners From Venus sport would do well to start with this one on it’s own or even as a nice introduction to Newell’s universe. Cap Tracks have had the tendency to go all in on reissue campaigns, which is admirable to be sure. This one ends up as a welcome gift from their tenacity.




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EZTV

EZTV’s debut was one of those slow burn stunners that crept in quiet and once it took hold, it was hard to shake. The band’s versed in their power pop history, choosing to err towards the softer and subtler end of the genre’s spectrum. They have plenty of pop in their veins but they know that the right kind of jangle sweeps a track along like a cool breeze, rustling the soul with an effortless shudder. They’ve nailed down their grasp on this brand of pop, moving from their Shake Some Action leanings into full on Chris Bell solo territory here. They’ve elevated themselves beyond just the jangled masses and weekend imitators to find that niche that’s running pure and clean. All power pop is, in a sense, looking for that ripple of purity and earnestness, mixed with just the right amount of bittersweet blush, but few are able to touch the nerve without coming off maudlin and cheap. That’s where EZTV succeed where others crumble.

Personally the band’s lyrical battle – longing for space, while struggling to stay in the city – hits home pretty hard, and I’m well versed in the push/pull on a person’s priorities that can evolve into. I lost the battle and bolted for trees but its good to know that EZTV are out there fighting the good fight against rent, cultural erosion and the strip-malling of NYC. Their home turf afforded a few drop-ins from compatriots in Real Estate and Quilt, plus labelmates Nic Hessler and Chris Cohen and even indie queen/tour partner Jenny Lewis herself on the tracks of High In Place. In telling form, though, no song ever sounds like a platform for their guests, EZTV just add the others’ brush strokes into their canvas of honeyed harmonies, sunset strums and weary words. The album feels like a classic before its even hit the runnout, which is a feat these days. Album-oriented rock may be on the decline but there are still a few who know how to knock a collection together. My advice is to settle in for the long haul and let EZTV act as a salve for the day, week, or month that’s got you down.

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EZTV – “High Flying Faith”

I came sorely late to EZTV’s first album, but the band’s timeless touch on the power pop paradigm seemed far too welcomed to pass up. Now the band stands on the verge of a follow-up and it sounds even more polished, working through the Byrdsian touches that found their way down to the likes of Shake Some Action-era Flaming Groovies and the bigger vistas of The Raspberries or later period Big Star. They’re fully gripping that hold on pop shimmer and this time they’re bringing Jenny Lewis along for the ride with some subtle backup vocals. Frankly, there couldn’t be a sweeter touch to add to any crystalline pop song than Lewis’ bourbon and honey drawl. The song fairly melts out of the speakers like sugar dissolving in water. Every note feels perfect, but not in a cloying way. EZTV have a timelessness that hits like the sweet pang of nostalgia rather than the hot slap of kitcsh. If this is how they’re rolling out of the gates for High In Place, then I’m pretty damn eager to hear how the rest plays out.



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Able Tasmans – A Cuppa Tea and a Lie Down

In contrast to some of their louder peers on Flying Nun, Able Tasmans boast a more acoustic jangle-pop focused sound that’s fleshed out nicely with keys. That doesn’t leave them by any means delicate, as opener “What Was That Thing” will attest. The band is more just as likely to indulge in a gorgeous strum as they are to incorporate wild and cathartic yelps and they push and pull between ecstatic and contemplative over the course of the album. They jumped onto the Flying Nun roster with The Tired Sun EP, which is included in Cap Tracks’ expanded reissue, followed up by the “Buffaloes” single, whose A-side is also incorporated into the expanded package here. This stands as their magnum opus, a gem of a sprawling album that pushes all over the map of Dunedin jangle at the time (though they were in fact from Whangarei), pulling in catchy charms, spastic angst, and even more experimental bits of spoken word collage. It stands as a true highlight in the Flying Nun catalog.

The band would follow it three years later with the more compact Hey Spinner! and push on into the nineties before disbanding. The later works don’t have the same impact as this debut, which pulled the Dunedin sound out of its guitar rut and into something of an update with their focus on keys as an integral part of their sound. A nice package from Captured Tracks’ diligent efforts to reissue key parts of the Nun catalog for sure and the extras make a nice bonus to the original album, giving it a bit of context as to where the band were leading up to its creation.



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EZTV

Said it before and I’ll say it again, January always acts as a cleanup of what was so sorely forgotten in the crush of year-end nonsense and in that mindset its with sorrow that I’m just now getting a chance to delver further into this EZTV album. With nods down the line of 70’s radio rock that spans from Todd Rundgren to the softer shadows of Cheap Trick, the band more often channels those playing in the wake of those pop princes. They mold the earnestness of Shoes with the instant likability of Chris Wilson-era Flamin’ Groovies to instantly arrive formed as successors to their brand of crystalline pop. The band went into the studio with 30 tracks and shaped and shaved them with the help of Woods’ Jarvis Taveniere and while each and every song doesn’t jump out of the speakers and into your nagging subconscious, collectively the album feels fully realized and perfectly nuanced. Each and every listen brings a new favorite to the fore and its plain to see that the band is more interested in making a lasting impression than fleeting infatuation. Calling Out isn’t fancy, it isn’t pushing the paradigm of pop forward. It is however an excellent study in keeping things simple and knowing exactly who you are and where you come from. It’s a love letter to classic American pop albums and one that hits all the right points to put you in its sway.

Listen:


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