(Editor’s note: Brief reviews of two records that you need to be aware of in advance of their August 25th release. Strangely, we’ve talked about both bands briefly in the past, but they’re both deserving of the broader treatment we’ll get today. You also get two live tracks. Hooray!)
I’ve been excited for the debut full-length from Canadian quintet Still Life Still since we got our hands on the stellar Pastel EP. That full-length, out this Tuesday on Arts and Crafts does not disappoint. Much like the EP, Girls Come Too is a big messy swirl of poppy hooks, tangled and tortured lyrical content and sweeping, catchy tunes. Singer/guitarist Eric Young’s plaintive, often tender, delivery belies the anarchic edge to many of the songs. Put it this way: “T-shirts” would be the filthiest song in the world if David Yow was spitting it out, but in Young’s much gentler register it comes across as a genuinely touching love song. (I think. I’d fill you in on the lyrics in question, but my mom reads the site. Buy the record and hear them for yourself. Mrs. Citizen and I rapped about it for a minute and decided that the appropriate reaction lies somewhere between embarrassed giggle and mild cringe, but, again, the delivery is really what the song’s about. I think.) In a near perfect bit of happenstance, the song I want you to hear is the song the record company wants you to hear. “Neon Blue” is one of the clear highlights on the record and nicely encapsulates the sonics of much of the record. There’s some gentle manipulation of the quiet/loud dynamic, which always plays well for me and which is present, to a greater or lesser degree, across the album. (Maybe the best bit of that particular trick comes in “Knives in Cartoons,” which backs down to drums and bass before exploding into frenetic, trebly guitar noise. Good times.) For those of you who missed the EP, the best tracks there reappear on the album, “Pastel” as a proper album cut and “Aid” as a ten-minutes into the last song “hidden track.” For gently nuanced power-pop with a bit of a snarl, Still Life Still is a can’t miss proposition.
We touched very briefly on The Postmarks in our recent Twitter Shenanigans contest post. (As an aside, let’s step it up there a little bit folks. The prize to follower #300 is in the mail, but the prize for #400 is a factor of ten better. Step your collective games up.) The single, “My Lucky Charm” is a lovely slice of mildly dramatic, slightly gooey, nearly traditionalist poppiness. The rest of the record plays ike the soundtrack for a super-cool unreleased film from the sixties. (The Postmarks seem to be hip to that vibe, given the highly nostalgic cover art, the densely dramatic title, Memoirs at the End of the World (which sounds like a lost Jen-Luc Goddard flick) and the press kit, which is packaged as a script.) The music pushes those cinematic buttons with sweeping strings, repeated themes and a willingness to oversell the emotion a bit, as in the stirring “I’m in Deep.” Singer Tim Yehezkely’s delivery calls Lush’s Miki Berenyi to mind, which is another major selling point. (Anything that reminds me to revisit Lovelife is a good thing.) Taken as a whole, the world The Postmarks craft over the course of the record is worth the visit. From the opener, “No One Said This Would Be Easy,” which would fit over the credits of a James Bond movie (sorry to beat a dying horse on the movie thing, but it’s inescapable) to the closing strains of the wistful “Gone,” it’s an entertaining record that’s easy to listen to.
To close up today, I’ve got a bit of a rant. You may be aware that Common and The Roots will be playing four dates in the United States as part of the Hennessy Artistry series. The sponsor, obviously, is Hennessy, the cognac. I love The Roots; when they’re in town, I pony up the dough and see an amazing show. (I missed their last trip to Cleveland as I was out of town, which also chaps my ass, but that is another issue all together.) It bums me out that they’re on a tour sponsored by a liquor company. Given the often political content of Black Thought’s rhymes, which I’ve long read an encouragement to folks of all stripes to do better (I really thought that’s what “Water” was about), this seems like, at best, an odd match. Shit. Aren’t liquor companies bad? Don’t they keep down the communities (black and white) that The Roots are encouraging to rise up? I thought I might be missing something, like maybe the profits went to charity, but I did some digging and that doesn’t appear to be the case. I mean, “fuck getting money for real, get freedom” seems pretty clear, right? Would Chuck D perform in front of a giant Air Jordan after “I like Nike but wait a minute, the neighborhood supports, so put money in it?” Would Neil Young sing “Keep On Rocking in the Free World” with a Wal-Mart banner draped across the stage? Corporate sponsorship of things bothers me in general, but this one strikes me as particularly awful. (It’s not quite in the realm of the Jaguar “London Calling” sales event, but it’s close.) I’m not going to stop loving The Roots, but, in the absence of a clear reason this is a good thing, I think this particular move sucks. However, since they’re still the greatest live band in the world, there are two killer cuts below.