Two Loons for Tea
Nine Lucid Dreams
An electro-pop duo from Seattle, Two Loons for Tea combines Nellie Furtado-esque vocals with over-produced seas of synthesizer beats. The resulting sound would be perfectly at home in the ladies’ department of Nordstrom, convincing those over 40 that they are still hip with the music scene. Sarah Scott’s vocal talent is considerable, paying homage to Suzanne Vega on “Marietta” and the Old South on “Dixie It Up!” But nothing can save Two Loons for Tea from their trite lyrics and ear-plugging back-up drivel. To end on a good note, the website (www.sarathan.com) is really nice and well-organized.
Two Loons for Tea with play in Portland on Sept. 14 at an undetermined venue.
It is apt that Ensemble’s website (www.ensemble-home.com) displays a man and a woman in the classic crash-landing pose: bent over, faces down, hands cupped above their heads. This CD crashes and burns. It is almost as annoying as the high-pitched tone on their website. Ensemble’s aspiration to portray a New Age, dreamy, wistful quality with all of their highly synthesized wandering tonal reverbs does not work with their constantly intrusive scratchy shrill discordances (think feedback) startling one out of any reverie that might have begun. Vocalists Olivier Alary, Chan Marshall, Lou Barlow, Mileece and Camille Claverie were smooth and beautiful. It is unfortunate that the vastly overdone electronics done for the sake of experimentalism were so wretchedly unsophisticated. Conversely, Ensemble may have successfully discovered the brown note.
Enjoyable, once you’re in the mood. It is performed entirely by one woman, primarily a capella. The vocal tracks echo a watery, female doo-wap as Lesley Kernochan’s voice laid over multiple times in order to create a very specific effect. For those of you who immediately thought of the “Don’t Worry Be Happy” craze of the late 1980s, you’re right on target. Lesley is following some well-worn footsteps.
Lesley’s style is a lot of fun, particularly for the first few tracks. In a very smart move, she varies tempo and style often enough to provide an enjoyable listen even for those who might otherwise become bored.
The initial gut reaction of “blah” that hit me within the first few moments of Come Closer‘s first song was subsequently followed by mild surprise at some of Quincy Coleman’s interesting musical combos, like including an intriguing ragtime/country combo. The big downer was the repetitive tempo – every song on the CD is slow, the same basic beat despite various instrumental overtones.
Quincy Coleman’s music is perfect background music if you’re having a wide variety of people over and don’t want to offend anyone or feel like the music is taking over the conversation.
Quincy Coleman with perform on Sept. 16 at the Buffalo Gap.
The latest album from Brooklyn’s Asobi Seksu is a gorgeous work of shoe-gazer dream pop called Citrus. The pretty, lush vocals are provided primarily by vocalist/keyboardist Yuki Chikudate, while guitarist/co-vocalist James Hanna and bassist/guitarist Haji provide thick walls of guitar tones that surround the vocal melodies in warm, rich layers of pop goodness. One thing that sets this album apart from traditional shoe-gaze is the vocals, mixed at or above the guitar and drums’ volume, which brings out the strength of the vocal melodies and sets this album a little closer to pop/alt/rock ‘n’ roll.
The band’s name translates from Japanese to (essentially) “sport fuck,” which may give an indication to the joie de vivre and intense fun that is present throughout Citrus. The guitar work is often sublime and even when Yuki sings in Japanese (as she does on three of the 12 songs here) the vocals are always engaging and intriguing. Layers of percussion and keyboard pads, vocals and ringing guitars make this a real treat to listen to. Recommended for fans of My Bloody Valentine and Lush.
Asobi Seksu plays Oct. 1 at Holocene.
If you live in Portland, you probably know someone trying to break into the local music scene. That person is usually competent with their instrument, able to carry a tune and able to play a song through flawlessly from start to finish. Unfortunately, their music bores the living hell out of you and you don’t have the heart to tell them. That’s exactly what it’s like listening to the new album by the band Summer Hymns, due out in November of this year. Hailing from Athens, Ga., this threesome, with five albums under their belt, has just finished recording their sixth, entitled Backward Masks.
Let me assure you that it is an incredibly monotonous piece of work. Part acoustic/part electric, hinting at psychedelic, this album will have you staring at the floor and picking the dirt out from underneath your fingernails by the end of the first track. Failing to evoke any emotion, good or bad, they sound like a Midwestern folk-rock band on sedatives. Singer/guitarist Zachary Gresham’s voice fails to give the audience a sense of where his vocal cords can really go, offering instead a spiritless, oral assessment of his life as he sees it. The only semi-memorable point in the album occurs during the song “Fearanoia,” as they repeat the phrase “there’s no reason for you to be afraid of love.” So if you’re in need of a good sedative, Ambien sleep meds might be a bit cheaper in the short term, but you’ll get more sleep-induced nights out of this in the long run.
So this is Goodbye
This album is filled with a blend of synth-pop and trip-hop, creating a sound that could be described as “neo-disco.” While the catchy rhythms and dulcet, soft-spoken lyrics are nice, the tunes become repetitive and impossible to differentiate between after a few listens. Some variation would have been nice, though it feels like the Junior Boys were trying to capture a specific ambiance; they’ve certainly shown that they are capable of creating some fine background music, a sort of down-tempo sound that you’d appreciate at a hookah bar or whilst watching interpretive dance.