Reviews:: Snow Globe ... something old, something older?

Last year, Snow Globe got the band back together. Well sort of. They pulled a KISS and started the ambitious project of recording four solo records with the same cast of players. The first - Brad Postlethwaite's Oxytocin - was a solid release, despite the lack of fan fare. I think I took the easy way out with my description: "Oxytocin (composed by the band's co-songwriter Brad Postlethwaite) - 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", but I liked what I heard.

Well, the record got enough people paying attention to Snow Globe to warrant another pressing of the 2004 release - Doing the Distance. The band and the record have a back story that sums up how bands get lost in the shuffle. For a great recap, you should read this piece by Scenestars from back in the day.

It's not easy to review a record from so long ago that you've never heard before. I mean, you can try to judge it now, or try to think of how you would have been affected in 2004. On a whole, the record holds up well today. The acoustic guitars and horns sound great, and the duality of Brad and Tim's writing makes for an interesting, if slightly disjointed listen. It sound more like a collection of songs and musical interlude, but the strength of the song writing is obvious.

It's got all the tinges of Neutral Milk Hotel, but I'm not sure if those comparisons were as easy to make in 2004. Less people expressed love for the band back then, so it wouldn't have been as easy to type cast in '04. Plus, Tim's leanings to classic rock n roll really add a new dimension. In the middle of Ms. June, he barges forward with a face melting, break down solo that doesn't fit at all, but totally works to counteract the delicate catchiness of the horn play.

The moment that grabbed me right off the bat was the electric guitar riff on Master Of Forgotten Works. It could be directly added into a Ratatat set and no one would blink an eye. When I first heard Ratatat's record, I was pretty into it, so I can't imagine how I would have reacted to that little riff, especially when the band adds horns and vocals to the equation.

The record - which at 16 tracks - probably runs a little long and could have been trimmed (songs like the 6-minute Baby left me a bit flat), but that's ok. Most of the songs are so short and so diverse that even if you don't like a track, they jump quickly into another style. It's hard to imagine a band going from crunched danceable guitars into a swirling piano pop song (Changes), but Snow Globe manages to do it. The band beefs up the sound and picks up the pace in the middle of the record, and it's the strongest portion of the songs.

The Big Machine is a quirky pop song that uses piano, computer effects and horns nicely to talk about a machine that swallows a human's soul being in 5 days. It's these type of ideas that help you understand why Snow Globe themselves was swallowed up by the machine of Indie rock. Obviously, they had (still have to be fair) the talent to be a big band, but ambition, inflated ideas and the pitfalls of Indy music back in the day left this band out in the cold so to speak.
MP3:: Master of Forgotten Works
MP3:: Changes

The band also released a collection of songs from even farther back in the day on St. Ives records (offshoot of JagJaguwar and Secretly Canadian). Me and You is a collection of 29 songs (I know, I know) that is a tough one to put a handle on. The first 14 songs, totaling about 17-minutes is intended to be one song and is mostly a collection of 4 and 8-track recordings. It's lo-fi and a bit bizarre, but you can see the promise the band displayed even back in 2001. The songs are like a musical time machine, as some are over 8 years old. It's an adventure to say the least - but one worth taking.
MP3:: People Come, People Go

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