Thursday, September 16, 2010

RECORD REVIEWS - September 2010

Archivists are a local four-piece with two guitarists and a rhythm section. At first listen, you could slot them into the broad-based indie rock category. And on second listen, you could still do the same. But you will also start hearing some really nice things in the songs of this band. They have a good grasp of melody and work two guitars into better than average patterns for a young band. The rhythm section is solid and the six songs here are all recorded in a clean crisp style. There are a couple of voices with one guitarist singing most of the lead parts. This ep is a nice start for a band that could fit on many bills here in DC and have some success on larger stages. There are not a lot of frills, but it is good honest rock music. Fans of the Shins, Spoon, Built to Spill, take note.

Favorite song: "J.A.H." - No, it's not a song by HR, but it does have some nice reggae/rock lines working within. But it moves beyond even that hybrid cliche with some nice psyche guitar work and a good vocal melody. Start with this one and I think you will quickly like this band.


The Spend is a one-man show from Chicago. Matt Shaw plays guitar and sings. Although the beginning point is loner/stoner acoustic folk, he brings in electric guitars and a lot of wonderful spacey effects in many of the songs. I am transported back to the psychedelic folk scene of the late sixties and early seventies with these songs and I am reminded of some obscure classics by Beau, Jeff Baker, or Peter Kelley. You want less obscure? There are touches of Nick Drake and Roy Harper in here. And this is fine company to keep, if you look at my record collection. There are a lot of pretenders out there these days in the freak folk and free folk scene, but The Spend is one of the few that really take me back to that period where a listener can get lost in the dreamy psychedelic vibe of acoustic based songs with the occasional jarring electric moments. I enjoyed the live set at the Velvet Lounge and this record shows he has command of the studio as well. There are moments where the spacey effects could be overused, but the restraint works to maintain a great atmosphere amidst the varied songs. A few of the songs work better than others and this does have a lo-fi feel at times which can be both good and bad, but ultimately this is an enjoyable album.

Songs to check out:

Acts - Spacey, trippy guitar work that will still be echoing for hours after you are finished listening.

Gills (dry) - Nice guitar work ala Roy Harper veers off into a nice folk song.

The King of Ryan Shaw - Almost reminds me of Adam Franklin with good restrained psyche-rock-folk work.

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