Its been a week or two, so let me once again re-iterate my love of EP's. They give you just the right amount of the good stuff without needing to stuff the stocking with excelsior to fake out that girth that brings honor to the mantle, or something like that. In this case, its Eighties-tastic new wave alternative splendour. A whole record of some Flock of Seagulls redux photoshott-into-band horseshit is intolerable. I mean we got over it, OK? Let it go. I was a big new waver too - I believed in it back then, but I can't find any nostalgia warm enough to bask in with new waves recent resurgence. But just as I say that, and almost run the risk of saying aloud that I think Le Tigre suck as well, here come two little EP's that make me wanna turn the collars of my Izod up and dream about John Hughes' Los Angeles.
Hi-Soft is a side project of creamy dreamy orchestral harmony drenched sunset pop from from member of the Lily's Gerhardt Koerner. Five tracks of rich tasty confection make up their debut Amateur, opening with the thesis statement "Soft Rock." But instead of giving off the puffy smoke from the embers of Air supply or dreck like that, they seem to be giving form to a mention made by Guided By Voices' Robert Pollard about the "soft rock renegades" on one of the early tracks on Bee Thousand, strumming and swaying and getting all Beatle-esque and chimey and Smiths-y in the the right measures. "West Coast Keith" continues in the same vein with an extra blanket of delirious fuzz like the Bran Jonestown Massacre have, with Koener's voice soaring and swooping about. "Continental Luck" and "Kenzo" both take me back to the jangly weepy days of the 80's when I had a Kitchens of Distinction poster on my wall and wore my sensitivity on my arm like a tattoo. Remember the term "SNAG" (sensitive New-age guy) ? I was one. I had that soft demeanor that came off as romantic to the right lady, and this might be modern SNAg-rock. The new age thing never really applied except for a bout of vegetarianism in college, but it made for a nice acronym. adding icing to this pot cupcake is "Country" which is a cloud of smoke with a lazy delicious hook. I really like this EP a lot. A whole album of nonstop swoon might be a bit much, but these five songs are as sweet as a bike ride with a new girlfriend.
Sound Team take on another anachronism with much more success than other recent acts in their dance rock onslaught Work. I got acquainted with them when they performed with Mazarin a while back, and with up to three keyboard players going at any one time, Bill Baird on the vocals and bass dancing up a storm got the usual indie crowd of cross-armed statuary to groove at least a little bit. "The Fastest Man Alive" opens this chest of disco splendour, with some delightful jingle-jangle and an infectious martial beat and New Order throb that even they can't do anymore. Instrumental workout "It's Obvious What's Happening Here" is great. Its the kind of grindy synth song I want to make whenever someone mistakenly allows them near their keyboards, but can never really summon. Its a chilly kind of glee, that new wave rush, but one that can levitate you is done right like it is here. "Don't Turn Away" closes out this great EP with old school new-wave juggernaut keyboard drones and junkyard percussion that sounds like Depeche Mode and the Cosby Kids got together for a Joy Division tribute. In the best possible way. Its a track I could listen to for an hour straight.
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
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