Artist of the Week: Standard Fare
I’ve been sticking with the new weekly format so far, but I’m starting to feel overwhelmed by the stuff slipping through the cracks:
- I feel bad, for instance, for not devoting a week to Paula Carino and her excellent new Open on Sunday (at first I thought Ross Bonadonna’s guitar work was a little busy in places, but the songs won me over/I warmed to the arrangements anyway; I catch myself humming Ross’s licks as well as Paula’s vocals lines).
- Like probably a lot of folks, I learned about Honneycombs (yes, with 2 n’s) because their gorgeous cover of “Nightime” (on youtube) that made the linky rounds in the wake of Alex Chilton’s passing. Arson Garden fans will be delighted to know there’s new music from April and James Combs, but Ida fans should know that the Honneycombs release is distinguished by beautiful three-part harmonies and elegant, acoustic-rooted arrangements. (Don’t miss the fine cover of The Smiths’ “Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want” available free from their website.)
- I’ve also been much enjoying the new releases from old fave Bettie Serveert (rockin’ again!), recent faves One for the Team, and Titus Andronicus (RIYL The Thermals, Hallelujah the Hills), and new (to me, anyway) faves Nana Grizol, The Happy Hollows, and The Light Footwork.
- Also still scratching my head over the dense, weird, but increasingly fascinating Hidden from These New Puritans
- I sort of expected that this week might be largely given over to hotly anticipated releases from Apollo Ghosts or Dum Dum Girls; both were initially a little disappointing but Apollo Ghosts, in particular, may just need some time to sink in.
- And then I learned the new Medications album was available early exclusively from the Dischord site, so I got to hear the ex-Faraquet folks’ latest post-punk/math-rock goodness sooner than I’d reckoned.
- And also, suddenly wondering whatever became of The Manhattan Love Suicides led me to learn they broke up, but just re-released/re-mastered the self-titled album with a passel of bonus tracks including the post Burnt Out Landscapes singles, and splintered into two new groups with new releases. The Blanche Hudson Weekend, with TMLS lead singer Caroline, sounds almost exactly like TMLS, i.e., awesome. The Medusa Snare, initially sounds more like Skywave to me than it does either (post-Skywave project) A Place to Bury Strangers or (Skywave influences) Jesus and Mary Chain, i.e, awesome.
However, for this week at least, all of these worthies were trumped by Standard Fare’s The Noyelle Beat. This is yet another indie pop band with co-ed vocals who doubtless would have loved the C86 scene if they were old enough to remember it. There’s a lot this around right now, and goodness knows I listen to my fair share of it and then some, but this band and this album really stand out. Hooks a-plenty, but what really sets it apart, I think, is more sophisticated songwriting than most of those working the general territory — lots of little bridgelets, breaks, overlapping parts & such —- and singer Emma Kupa. She can (and sometimes does) do the wispy pretty thing that is quintessential to the twee genre, but she can also belt with a lot more grit and verve than most.