The Weekly Jive

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Posted July 17, 2008 in Music

Windmill—Puddle City Racing Lights (Friendly Fire)

Matthew Thomas Dillon goes by the name Windmill, as in ‘tilting at,’ and that’s as good a place as any to start with the fanciful-and-melancholic Puddle City Racing Lights. Built around Englishman Dillon’s crashing piano chords, string swells, massive drums, and high-on-helium-vocals almost guaranteed to initially repel, Puddle City’s songs drink from the same spiked punch as acid-droppers like Mercury Rev and The Flaming Lips. In fact, if those bands were fronted by a young squeaky Daniel Johnston it might’ve sounded like Windmill. Dillon doesn’t have Johnston’s knack for knocking you on your ass with a single couplet, and lacks Wayne Coyne’s prophet-like charisma, but his songs build to some majestic moments, contrasting dramatic orchestral crescendos with delicate piano, bass, and double-tracked vocal bits (with the occasional elegiac cello) that recall Deserter’s Songs quieter moments. The post-psychedelic vibe is heightened by narratives that take place in songs named after “Boarding Lounges,” “Fluorescent Lights,” and “Plasticine Plugs,” but the viewpoint is always intimate. Getting past his voice may take time, but it’s worth it; when everything coalesces, like it does on album highlight “Fit” (where Dillon’s vocals blend into the rich arrangements), you’ll be hitting the ‘repeat’ button like a lab rat.  (John Schacht)


Paul Weller—22 Dreams (Yep Roc)

The Modfather has gone all White Album on us. 22 Dreams, the ambitious ninth solo release by Paul Weller, is an old-fashioned double-disc clocking in at 70 minutes. Many of the 21 tracks (including half a dozen instrumentals) are among the revered British musician’s finest. Casual fans that prefer his more aggressive side might want to sit this one out though. Eclecticism is key. Stylistically, it’s all over the map, veering from Krautrock (a trippy Moog and Mellotron-fueled “111”) and English/Punjabi spoken word (“God,” courtesy onetime Stone Rose Iziz Ibrahim) to music hall-meets-pastoral folk (“Black River”) and beyond. Only Steve Cradock remains from the usual core backing band. Noel Gallagher and Graham Coxon—twin guitar pillars of ’90s Britpop titans Oasis and Blur—both log worthy appearances. Philly soul-styled harmonies and strings color the rich “Have You Made Up Your Mind,” the idyllic “Empty Ring” could be a Style Council outtake and there’s a late-night-bar-before-last call vibe to piano ballad “Invisible,” featuring some vulnerable Weller vocals. But the real winners include a chugging “Push it Along” (think early Who) and the title track, a frantic nod to 1960s Northern soul. This music should definitely be experienced on headphones. (George A. Paul)

 


Falcon—Falcon (No Office Records)

This one has to begin with the back story: these five cuts were culled from the library of songwriting prodigy Jared Falcon, who died from spinal meningitis at the age of 14 having written 336 songs—recorded onto a cheap cassette player—from January 1987–February 1988. Two of his junior high classmates, Neil Rosen and Longwave’s Shannon Ferguson, discovered the tapes years later while helping the Falcon family move. Blown away by what they heard, they formed the band in 2003 specifically to bring these songs into the light, and have done an impressive job fleshing out the lo-fi guitar-and-voice sketches into lushly textured, soft/loud indie rock. Not surprisingly, there’s a definite shoegaze vibe consistent with a Longwave RIYL, Swervedriver and Slowdive topping that list. Combining these epic sonics with the late Falcon’s mix of teenage-appropriate melancholy and beyond-his-years observations lifts these songs above their station. The adolescent-like warbles in Rosen’s voice only heighten the effect, as on EP highlight “Listen In,” where a simple line like “had a friend for most of my life/till I lost him” packs a true emotional wallop. With 300 more songs to play with, this is a fitting—and hopefully ongoing—tribute.. (John Schacht)



   




 


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