Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Reviews:: Georgie James Places

I've been waiting for this one for quite some time. In fact, since I first heard the infamous Georgie James demo EP - Demos at Dance Place - I've been on pins and needles with the announcement of each new song . For fans of the band, you are in for a taste of something old and something new. The new Saddle-Creek release - Places - is 12 songs, but half of the material already existed in some form or another (demo CD or the CD-single). But before you get turned off, don't think the duo simply threw the old tracks onto a new record and was done with it.

Just take the single, Need Your Needs. When the band first started getting material out, this was one of the immediate ear grabbers. Now, 18 months later, it has evolved into a complete song. When we first reviewed the band, this is what we thought off NYN - "This song grabs you within two beats. The guitar and understated hand claps are paired perfectly with John’s lead vocals and Laura’s backing harmonies. The funky beat suddenly turns into the duo harmonizing on a breakdown showing the strength of the project. Musically and vocally, this team is in sync and immensely talented." Essentially the song is the same, but they added a nice guitar flourish that really shifts the song. I know some people love the demo version of songs - the whole I loved this band before you did - but I appreciate the extra production they put into the mix.

But I'm getting ahead of myself, because I'm skipping the piano driven pop song Cake Parade. Laura Burhenn's vocals and piano lines are infectious. The sugary sweet tune masks the subject matter, a protest song about the young soldiers fighting (and dying ) in another shitty war, and the sounds floats along like clouds on a summer day. They create piano pop songs and give them a weightless feel. On Long Week, she stamps out a piano riff that is interesting, but never dominates, so you can focus in on the nice falsettos she uses. The new version of the track adds some maracas and harmonies, and it just sounds like they finally had the time to finish the song the way they envisioned it when they wrote it.

It's the duality that really makes Georgie James work. They have a penchant for 60's and 70's pop (and Laura's voice is classic), but John Davis uses interesting, modern transitions and signatures to make these songs completely unique. You can hear traces of the Kinks in their melodies and a lot of Richard & Linda Thompson, but unlike a lot of bands, you never think Georgie James is aping someone else's success. The excel at passing melodies back and forth and playing to each other strengths.

The new songs on this release are a complete shift of focus as well. Henry and Hanzy lets John and Laura harmonize over hand claps and a more rootsy vibe. It's still catchy and fits into the record nicely, but the sound is just different enough to really stand out and the new sounds continue on the more rock ready vibe of Comfortable Headphones (note:: I'd wager that this song title will become someone's blogname). It's the first track that really showcases John's drumming. He throws in some nice fills along with the electric noodling and the freshness of the new song really primes you to get back into the familiar material nicely.

Songs like Hard Feelings, Places and Cheap Champagne have been reworked nicely - the shuffling sounds of Hard Feelings is a marked improvement from an already good track and the title track seems much fuller without losing the delicious hook that made me love the song. Cheap Champagne adds a wooden percussion sound that bounces around your headphones and the track seems to soar with bigger builds on the chorus.

In short, this album is great. Georgie James took the time to polish their songs and craft a pop masterpiece that takes you on a nostalgic tour of era's gone past, but doesn't leave you stuck in the days gone by. In short, this album is great.
MP3:: Need Your Needs

MP3:: Cake Parade
web site :: label

Posted at 11:42 AM by ack :: 0 comments

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