(Paper Garden Records)
I got burned on the * in the name before. I latched onto Jonathan Fire*Eater right as they were collapsing on themselves into obscurity to only become a lesser version of themselves as the Walkmen, pitching iPods and whatnot. I mean more power to them but its did not bode well for the asterisk in band name history. I think a neat conceptual trick would be to include the asterisk at the end of your name, and have the album title listed as a footnote, but that kind of David Foster Wallace concrete prose stylistics1 might only appeal to me.
So anyway, Eagle*Seagull. A cracking Nebraska outfit of keyboard friendly but-not-consumed-by indie rock bursts on through unafraid of the star's unfortunate legacy. Plenty of bands are adopting the exclamation point in their deal (like Thunderbirds are Now! and !!! ) so why not take to the stars. Their debut is a buffet of song stylings from the strident power pop of "Photograph, sad piano interludes like "It was a Lovely Parade" and dreamy guitar pop like "Holy" all held together by a fate-obsessed mood and great little hooks.
This all comes together the best in "Your Beauty is a Knife I Turn on My Throat" (best song title I've heard this year) where the vocals are about to explode in exegesis, proving that Conor Obrest in fact does not have a monopoly over expressiveness in the Cornhusker State. (and good on you Nebraska for showing the style ho's in NY and LA how to make some great bands off the grid) They remind me of a cross between the Eels in their style hopping, and Spoon in their sense of cold drama, but I think they are actually better than both those bands. "It's So Sexy" well...is. Its taking the would-you-fuck-me-already rattle from the Brooklyn set and slowing it down into a breathy stompy dirge. and the twangy "Hear It/Feel It" toward the end of the album is a dead on great track, with a riff outta the Fall's glory years and breathy urgent lyrics. I wish these kids the best, and hope they can break the curse of the * and keep punchy when they eventually get huge and are used to sell me whatever the next iPod is.
1 Or you if you are already reading this.
Alex V. Cook listens to everything and writes about most of it. His latest book, the snappily titled Louisiana Saturday Night: Looking for a Good Time in South Louisiana's Juke Joints, Honky-Tonks, and Dance Halls is an odyssey from the backwoods bars and small-town dives to the swampside dance halls and converted clapboard barns of a Louisiana Saturday Night. Don't leave Heathrow without it. His first book Darkness Racket and Twang is available from SideCartel. The full effect can be had at alex v cook.com