Friday, March 28, 2008

Pacific UV

I think this record is awesome, but I can't get anyone to listen to it.

Here's a short review posted yesterday in PopMatters.

PacificUV, Longplay2 (Warm)
Incandescent landscapes of drone and fuzz rise and subside, recalling the lulling, static lands of Spiritualized, the Cocteau Twins and Slowdive. Athens’ PacificUV, five years on from their debut and two years past an intermediary EP, stretches out in this second full-length, guitar tones left to float like dust motes in a sunny window, words stretched to codeine-furzed dreaminess in the cuts with vocals. Best here is “Need”, all luminous, intersecting guitar notes and whispery (Calla-ish) vocals, but “Tremolo” comes close, borrowing Carolyn Berk for slow-moving, angelic vocals a la Mazzy Star (or, more recently, Isobella). Soft, nostalgic piano, merged with wistful post-rock guitars in epic-length “Arson” make the connection to Mogwai, and the keyboards return, augmented with cello, in the limpid, lovely “Ljiv”. Still there’s not much “loud” in PacificUV’s loud-soft continuum. Instead, graceful, spacious grooves carve otherworldly spaces, cresting and falling but never blowing the walls out. They’re gorgeous spaces, though, if you’re in the mood for a daydream. [Amazon ]

Head of Femur flirts with -- no marries -- excess

Mog is fucked again, so I'm going to put my stuff up here. Here’s another entry in the everything-but-the-kitchen-sink brand of sunny day pop from Chicago’s Head of Femur, reviewed yesterday in PopMatters

Head of Femur
Great Plains
US release date: 25 March 2008
UK release date: 28 March 2008
by Jennifer Kelly

Too Much? No Such Thing.

Head of Femur, the Nebraska-and-Chicago-based baroque pop outfit with three core, eight satellite and seemingly hundreds of cameo players, has never had much interest in minimalism. Its first album, the intermittently sublime Ringodom or Proctor, shoehorned three or four songs into each multi-instrumented cut. This debut CD was ushered into the world in its entirety by a band of 24 musicians on a tiny Chicago stage. And following Hysterical Stars, when Head of Femur toured with equally populous Architecture in Helsinki, they could have rented the Partridge Family bus and still jostled elbows and knocked knees. More is always more rather than less to these guys—more people, more instruments, more song ideas, and more joy. With their fourth album, Great Plains, the parts all fit together in a seamless, logical way that finally drives home, I think, what Head of Femur has been going for all along.

Essentially, this is a caffeinated, giddy melodic pop that is bristling with intelligence, but softened by whimsy. Their first album included an Eno cover, “The True Wheel” from Taking Tiger Mountain by Strategy, and this still seems like a very solid reference point for pop that is still pop no matter how convoluted it gets. You will hear bits and pieces that remind you of all the challenging pop bands—the Beatles, the Beach Boys,ELO, the Move, and the Elephant 6 contingent—but filtered through an exuberant, band-geek sort of competence. This is not the kind of band where you can get away with half-assing your instrument. Every tone rings out bright and clear and assured.

More here:

I’ve been writing about Head of Femur for a long time. Here’s a link to my Splendid interview (notable because not only did we insert silly arrows into the photos pointing out interview subject, Matt Focht, we also got the wrong guy. It’s fixed now, apparently.)

And here’s a live show review of Head of Femur and Hockey Night: