Monday, October 22, 2012

blind albums part 1 - sister crayon (+ intro)

part 1: sister crayon - bellow
part 2: siam shade - iv zero
part 3: groove armada - white light
part 4: jakalope - it dreams

i have no idea what triggered it, but against my normal habits I've purchased a minor sum of albums, in CD format. I think it's the fact that I've graduated to a greater degree of 20-something normalcy and begun using the shuffle button on my MP3 player. I'm running out of tracks that trigger that "yeeuh!" response when they pop up, and so I've purchased a few CDs to expand my small collection. At time of writing, after buying this batch of CDs, I still only have about 60 albums. I'm really baffled at how much music the average 20 something has. I know I'm uniquely behind, but I mean, dayum people.

I need 2 iPods just to fit it all
What made this small batch of new music novel for me was the fact that it was all bought with practically no pretense. Little, if any, familiarity with the tracks on each album. This is huge for me. I forwent my normal habit of listening to every single song on an album before committing to a purchase, and it made listening to them pretty exciting. Imagine, right? So, because I had a little bit of fun with it, I thought I'd share some of the cool junk I accidentally found. For me, a new exciting artist only comes around every several months (or years even), so when the gettin' is good, I think it's worth spreading around.

Oh, right. Breakdown! It's a multi-post article, but still.

1. Sister Crayon - Bellow

How'd I find them?: 

The singer for this band, Terra Lopez (who's name I learned for the first time just now), also used to front one of my other favorite bands, The Evening Episode. They had the nerve to break up before I discovered them, and only after making 1 album. I was browsing their MySpace page hoping for non-album tracks when I got bounced to the page for Sister Crayon. I got to sample their track titled (in)Reverse, but the album was still in production.

What do they sound like?:

Pretty hipster-ish actually. Definitely an indie band. As a person who's hated hipsters since before there was a word for them, I have to say that's pretty surprising. Minimalistic style heavy on the synth melodies and ambient vocals.

They can go entire songs, or several without a single hook. It's uncanny, as I've never really liked that kind of music. I'm a big sucker for catchy melodies and especially hooks, Blues Traveler congnizance notwithstanding. It's a pretty constant quality of all the music I have, regardless of whether it's rock, pop, or anything else. So when a band comes along that fits pretty well within the more subdued and less instantly catchy style, but manages to get the attention of a less sophisticated listener like myself, I think it's safe to say it's got decent appeal.

Each song is like a sad dream, if you'll allow me that ball of writer's cheese. The song in the video embedded above, I'm Still The Same Person, is one of the best, and it really shows how well the band gels together. They have a patience about their music; they're not in a hurry to get anywhere, which is something I usually don't have the patience for where music is concerned. But it's uniquely rewarding. Generally, I don't see that level of maturity in a band until a few albums in, which has me pretty excited for whatever it is that they choose to make next.

"I'm Still The Same Person" is an obvious standout, but another favorite of mine is "Anti-Psalm". It doesn't follow the normal song structure of "verse-CHORUS-verse-CHORUS-bridge-CHORUS". It's kind of organic, but the best approximation is "verse-CHORUS-bridge-verse-CHORUS". The bridge is an incredibly angelic non-lyrical vocal that I can't sufficiently describe. I can say that it makes me as close to happy as I am physiologically capable of being.

And (in)Reverse has a cool video.

If you're more into something upbeat, "Souls of Gold" is a little more bouncy and funkadelic. Funky like a 70s game show, or Brazilian pop. I'm guessing the ever-so-slight cheesiness of this song is intentional, and it works. It's funny, but in a good way. If music that you can bounce around to is more your style, I would look at that one. Normally I'd say it's annoying, but this is the Sister Crayon version of bad 70s music, not actual bad 70s music. It's a lighthearted and enthusiastic celebration of people (or at least seems to be; the lyrics could be more layered than I realize) and as far as happy songs go, I like it more than most.

I like it. But even if your tastes are radically different from mine, you will probably like it too. It comes highly recommended from me. It's a gem that does not try too hard to be cool, laid-back, unique, or interesting. It just is what it is, a handful of musicians putting out excellent music and not caring about much else. Buy.

Buy "Bellow" from Amazon MP3

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