Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Quick Hitters:: Gobble Gobble and The Woodlands

Yesterday's grab bag was so much fun... I thought, why not do it again? You skeptics might see this as summer laziness kicking in, but really it's just that the sheer volume of music is overwhelming (especially when you are constantly searching for fresh weather metaphors or obscure 80's rap references to gussy up the reviews).

Anyway, here are two records that I've been enjoying.

Gobble Gobble - Neon Graveyard

I don’t know anything about Gobble Gobble – aka Cecil Frena – but apparently he’s dug into the Edmonton scene and that’s good enough for us. As an active show promoter, he plays host to tons of bands that call Edmonton home or pass through and I’d wager that being around fantastic artists on a nightly basis is nothing if not inspiring.

There’s precious little out there on Gobble Gobble. Honestly, try googling the band with any of the details I’ve provided and enjoy the results. I couldn’t even tell you if it’s a band or a bedroom driven project, but Cecil’s interesting mix of pop and noise is worth a little bit of extra hustle on our part. He’s obviously rooted in pop sensibility; there are subtle moments of melody, like the synths on Alabaster Bodyworlds or the gentle picked guitar that starts Meteor Eschat, but he loves to veer from those standard structures with loops, distortion and feedback to push his songs to the brink of chaos. I know lo-fi bursts and noise symphonies are chic these days, but what helps Gobble Gobble hold your ear is that even when Cecil explores video game/ carnival loops (Misericordia) or white noise, he never lets go of the melody completely and this helps the listener move with him.

Sure, there are some swings and misses on this record, but that is probably due more to ambition than anything else. Cecil seems willing – and determined – to run with any inspiration that moves him and as a result the 11-songs he offers up on Neon Graveyard are a bit of a mixed bag. The swirling vocals and more industrial textures of Skin of Prophets don’t really line up well with some of the stronger tracks (like my favorite, the electro folksy Born Stray), but when he gets it right, the results are pleasantly surprising.

MP3:: Gobble Gobble - Alabaster Bodyworlds

MP3:: Gobble Gobble - Meteor Eschat
MYSPACE:: http://www.myspace.com/leatherjowels

The Woodlands - self-titled

When it comes to our Canadian only content rule, we seem to be bending constantly but never breaking. The latest band to draw our interest? Woodlands. The husband and wife, Portland duo – Samuel & Hannah – uses gentle tones and Hannah’s hushed vocals to create a soft focus, one that captures all of the beauty in their lives in each slow moving pass of the lens.

I first read about them over on Slowcoustic – which makes sense, as the duo visits Calgary often and has an upcoming show in Calgary – but until you hear the record, you really can’t really appreciate the depth their debut has to offer. I mean, lets be honest. The only thing more common than husband and wife two-pieces in indie rock these days might be rehashing indie folk, but Woodlands shake free of the standard sounds and expectations and transport you into their world. Even with the warmth of the instruments they chose, Hannah's vocals often create crystalline . In an extremely odd, but amazing way the duo is like Azeda Booth's, organic folk cousin.

Obviously, you could easily throw around words like ethereal and beautiful, but for me the most surprising emotion they manage to convey, even at the most fragile or tender moments, is confidence. When you listen to In The Dark On Monday, you could easily settle into the bed of chimes, but it’s the surging acoustic and strums and the power of Hannah’s vocals that defy the muted tones, gain momentum and follow the song's mantra, "I’ll keep going."

Usually with you sit down with a record that is fleshed out with subtleties, you aren’t rewarded on a casual listen. Somehow though, the duo from Portland manages to craft engaging songs that only get better with each listen. Not a bad song in the bunch.

MP3:: The Woodlands - Through the Winter

MP3:: The Woodlands - Summerland
MYSPACE:: http://www.myspace.com/thewoodlandsmusic

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Posted at 9:42 AM by ack :: 0 comments

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