Even as MP3 storage capability grows exponentially, the space available for bands that hint at Belle & Sebastian, The Velvets or (in a more modern spin) John Roderick becomes more exclusive. Music fans surround their choices with velvet ropes, refusing entry to intelligent, gritty, vintage pop and tasteful arrangements but openly welcome next-blog-things dubstep, witch house and horrible rape friendly horror raps acts for their 15-minutes of fame (you’ve all moved on from Odd Future right?).


Thankfully, there are still artists like Jane Gowan who refuse to stop fighting the good fight. She — under the moniker Shade — is back with a follow up to the oh so delightful Highway, and even if the sound and end results are slightly different, her talent still shines through. In fact, I think the scaled back, straight ahead songs actually highlight Jane’s strengths. Instead of recording with her full band, she recruited Rheostatic Tim Vesely (and part time Shade member) to record the songs and add valuable textures to the new seven song EP, One Last Show of Hearts.


The stripped back, lo-fi arrangements shine the spotlight on the gentle acoustic, piano and Jane’s heartfelt words, but never make the songs feel half-finished or rushed. Tim and Jane know exactly what sound they want added to the mix (case in point: the nice steel and uke interplay on “Peace of Mind” changes the feel of the song, but doesn’t crowd the melody and the nice electric work that fills out “Tried Too Hard” is note perfect) and firmly believe that less is more.


I know Shade won’t turn the blog world on its axis, but there should be a home for bands that can so consistently craft smart, crisp pop songs and as long as Shade keeps writing records like One Last Show of Hearts, herohill will proudly yell from the rooftops hoping people to listen. Plus, how fantastic is the covert art???

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MP3:: Shade - Tried Too Hard
WEB:: http://shademusic.wordpress.com/