In the middle of a grim winter on many fronts, not least the number
of musical heroes we've been losing lately (R.I.P. Lux Interior),
a couple of new, guitar-drenched EPs from hitherto unknown bands
turned out to be just the ticket.
Wire To Ear Records
Slider Pines are a pretty new band from Dallas, TX; this EP
follows up last year's full length Road Avenue Railroad, which
I'll definitely be checking out after hearing these tunes. As well
as cranking out boss tunage, they've got a good sense of humour -
the cut'n'paste band bio on their MySpace page (http://www.myspace.com/sliderpines)
The 'Pines Web site mentions Tom Petty and The Shins,
but the ace first track "Pulling Teeth" on EP reminded
me of none so much as the Rain Parade (admittedly I have been
on a bit of a Paisley Underground binge lately; most of those mid-80s
psych-rock heroes still sound great today). It's a fab slice of chiming,
electric psych power pop with ringing Rickenbackers and soaring harmonies;
if it weren't for the vocals, this could be some late 60's Byrds
outtake. Yes, pop pickers, it's that good !
The next couple of songs are a bit more straightforward, but well
above average; bringing up the Byrds again, the driving, chunky "The
Pinch" reminds me of one of Chris Hillman's great country-chuggers.
"Faster Than The Roads" starts off a bit pedestrian, but
cranks it right up again with some more fantastic lead guitar, like
a cross between "Eight Miles High" and a groovy Shack
Overall, this is a great slice of guitar music that I cranked up
right away and has been in heavy rotation ever since. You can download
it for free from the band's website, so what the heck are you waiting
for ? Bet they shred live, too - there are some live dates in March
for those within reach of Texas.
Tigers Against Crime
Starkeys are a Portland,OR duo and this is their debut EP;
not sure if they are the "Star-Keys", or are named after
Ringo Starr's real name. Main men Sam Phillips (no relation)
and Oliver Francis have an interesting backgound, having grown
up in Bahrain playing traditional Bedouin songs with friends alongside
listening to the Beatles.
Their press blurb says they have "stirring middle eastern melodic
flourishes", but I only heard that a bit in the percussion and
keyboards on the last track "Dilmun". The EP is mostly pleasant,
jangly indie pop; upbeat opener "Shift Drink" (now that's
an option I could use on my computer keyboard!) sets the tone nicely
with its jaunty rhythm, lively acoustic guitar and swelling keyboards.
Starkeys' singer sounds a lot like Ambulance Ltd singer Marcus
Congleton, and the music has some of the breeziness of that band's
lighter moments. (Side note - Ambulance Ltd finally have a new album
in the works after many record company hassles, yay!)
Overall, a nice antidote to the winter blues; I couldn't find much
more info about the band, but a full length record from these guys
would be most welcome.
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