Thursday, March 12, 2009

February Gems: RPM 09 finds Part 1

Well it's March 12th and we're finally able to browse the RPM website to listen to what everyone else in town made over the exceptionally short month of February. This was a record year for the RPM challenge with over a hundred albums (I think, I haven't checked) made in St. John's alone (mine included). So I've been spending a bit of time here and there listening to what's been posted up so far and checking out how the locals fared. And I've found that there have been some damn exceptional participants this year. Lets start with the one I'm listening to now:

Steve Haley's "Two Steps in the Dark". It took me awhile to realize this Steve Haley is same one from local Indie Rockers The Human Soundtrack. To be honest I could never really get into The Human Soundtrack, they had a couple good tunes but something about their delivery always grated me a bit. I have to say I friggin' love "Two Steps in the Dark" this style of dark, down tempo folk is a much better fit for Steve's voice. The songs are lonesome as all hell and are delicately and smartly arranged with subtly roomy acoustic ambiance. The songs ebb and flow with an easy going grace that heightens the unforced dramatic nature of the tunes. Ack! I'm getting all pitchforky here. just give it a listen.

Next let's look at some myspace friends of mine from Mount Pearl am/fm dreams' self titled album. Last years RPM album "How the Aviator sees the Rainbow" gained the obscure Mount Pearl band a good few followers here in town, and they've wasted no time at all in putting out three other full length albums (including this one) since last years RPM. All of them with the same professional quality. They're kind of a 90's nostalgia band in the best possible way, grungy-arsed guitars, big beats, scratchy but lilting vocal harmonies, tight pop hooks with an easy going attitude. The new self titled album is possibly they're strongest yet (I might need more time for it to sink in I've only listened to it once) I especially like the Danielle Poirier fronted track "I wish I never met you" for it's thick sleazy groove and change of pace. "Always the follower" makes great use of some guided by voices dynamics tricks and big arena rock chorus. As far as I know am/fm dreams only appear in record form and don't play shows outside of dismal ol' Mount Pearl. If they ever brought their act into town I know a good few people who would come flocking.

Just by randomly clicking on band names I came across "Pet Legs" a new project of Rebecca Cohoe (of The Subtitles) and Ian Murphy (of some band that I can't remember right now (edit: "Exit Party") ). Pure pop confection of the minimal 80's keyboard variety. Usually that type of thing would send me running in the opposite direction but Pet Legs gets the formula spot on in this one. Strong voices, energetic tempos, catchy hooks all over the place and its the perfect type of project to benefit from the RPM challenge situation. If any more time then a month was spent on the album it would definitely be at risk of over thinking, over producing and needlessly cluttering and compressing the arrangements that happens in 99% of the music in this genre. The arrangements are sparse but the performances are solid and mixes are really full. The biggest complaint I have would probably be the loss of momentum after the spirited first half as the last four or five songs are all in the down tempo ballad mode. But when facing down a four week deadline sequencing almost always gets the short end of the stick (does that metaphor make sense?).

There are a couple of other albums I might've talked about today but I noticed they haven't added themselves to the Jukebox yet. Get off your asses! you lazy punks! I need to scrutinize you haphazard recording efforts and pass unsolicited judgement on you.
More albums being reviewed soon.