Saturday, August 23, 2008

SLAMMED with music - a few standouts from the pile

Since I've been writing for Bullz Eye, my email address has been picked up by a bunch of publicists. I get so many press releases emailed to me that it's impossible to keep up with them all.

Sifting through the pile this morning, I went into quick-'n-dirty executive mode to make a dent at what I've missed recently. What I'm seeing is that lots of so-called "emo" pop-punk stuff comes my way. Don't get me wrong, it has value, but for the most part, the stuff from which it apparently descended, the decidedly non-pop D.C. hardcore of Rites of Spring, Dag Nasty, basically anything on Dischord Records, is more my cup of tea.

Take One Small Step for Landmines, for example. They're actually one of the better bands of this ilk, in that their recordings aren't maxed out with volume, and they don't look like they just spent $500 on a hairdo. Actually, the more I listen to this band, they kind of grow on me. But those sweet power-pop harmonies rubbing up against punked-up rock mix in my brain like oil and water. Blink 182 never did it for me either. I dig juvenilia, I dig punk rock, but not the way they mixed it with super-polished punk rock. It can be hard to explain exactly what excites me musically and what doesn't when just one quick listen can give me the answer in an instant, but I suppose it's just like choosing who to date or what to eat. You have a set of criteria that you go by, but on a moment's notice, your choices can confound others and even yourself when some unnamed quality you pick up on trumps all the rest.

Here are a couple other bands that I probably wouldn't go out of my way to cover in the face of the other assignments I have on deck, but still had me listening longer than the others sitting in my inbox. They're actually quite good, so see if they do it for you:

The Ting Tings:
British new wave/punk group, throwback to the late '70s early '80s. Just a drummer
and a frontwoman from the U.K. That crazy hooligan Calvin Harris remixed one of their songs too. From press release: "For the duo's recent limited edition UK single, 'Great DJ,' a Single of the Week in the NME, The Ting Tings recycled old 7" singles, inverted the covers and relabeled the sleeves with the band's name and song title using colored duct tape. Previous limited edition Ting Tings single campaigns have included a four city tour where the band invited the audience to decorate 100 blank 7" sleeves at each show. The lot decorated at each show were sold at the following gig." Sounds pretty awesome to me. Oh, to be a barhopping club goer in Manchester right about now!

Alt-country project spearheaded by At the Drive In alumnus Jim Ward. I never got into
the the Old 97's -- they should have been a band I liked, but they just never clicked with me. So by and large, the faster, punked-up Old 97's-influenced material on Sleepercar's West Texas doesn't do much for me. But when they slow it down, keep it mellow, and pull out the pedal steel, they give me that warm and fuzzy feeling I get from really good alt country. Add them to the growing list of bands giving Texas a good name.

There will be more, I'm sure...