Reviews:: Shearwater & Snowglobe

After watching a most bizarre World Cup final, I saw two things I never expected. I never expected Zidane to head butt someone in the chest (but let's give credit where credit is due: that PK was legendary). I also never expected to see me respecting the Italians (obviuosly I can't respect the alleged racism or ignorance of one player), but I have to say that their back four is amazing. Pushing forward, finishing strongly and helping rease the diving stereotype the Italian crew is world reknown for. But now it is over, so back to the musack and two bands have been getting some heavy rotation from me lately.

The first, Shearwater, and the new album Palo Santo shows the band, which was once known simply as an Okkervil River side project (which isn't fair, but that is how the band is known), forge ahead without Will Sheff's trademark vocals and shows how successful Jonathon Meinburg can be as a frontman.

The album is a lovely multi-instrument based adventure, rich in piano and guitar based tracks. After only a few listens, I think that without the duality of both he and Sheff writing songs the result is more focused. Meinburg shows great range and more impressively, some great rage on these emotional tracks. Words like haunting and powerful are tossed around too much in album reviews, but in this case, are well warranted. His vocals take risks, leaving a listener emtionally affected, similar to those of Antony Hegarty or even old Thom Yorke.

The songs are a compelling mix of layers, textures, styles and influences. From the pulsating backbeat of Red Sea Black Sea to the brooding finger-picked folk sounds of Palo Santo, the band constructs some of the nicest arrangements and sounds I've heard all year. Every note seems to have been thought out, (for example the single key strokes on the title track at the most perfect times).

It's hard not to hear Floyd and VU, but it's also not hard to hear an almost Broadway showtime feel on tracks like Seventy four seventy five & Johnny Viola (which was my nickname in elementary after I played Push It on my viola during recital). It's hard not to hear this record and NOT think it will be on my best-of 2006 list.

MP3::La Dame et La Licorne
MP3:: Seventy four seventy five

The second, is Snowglobe. The former Memphis band is trying a KISS-type deal, with each member crafting a solo album while the rest of the band plays backup. Sound fun? Well, what the first album - Oxytocin (composed by the band's co-songwriter Brad Postlewaite) - sounds like is a classic E6-style experience. You know, that fantastic, dreamy pop music you can't get enough of?

As I always say, dropping E6 into a discussion is pointless. You will just enjoy the music, or you won't. I am one of the ones that does.

MP3:: Rainbow
MP3:: Dry

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