Wood and Wire
If life’s a box of chocolates (apologies for exhuming that phrase), then The Lights’ newest EP, Wood and Wire, might be an assortment of tangy beef jerky. The four-song variety pack straight out of Seattle boasts lo-fi, highly innovative and darkly tempered tunes that shift in texture from one to the next. “Suge Knight Sweetheart” is probably the most delectable, with the gruff baritone of Craig Chambers and a barebones breakdown that teeters on self-destruction. “Talk to God About It” has an ethereal vocal landscape reminiscent of The Pixies’ Bossanova counteracted by the spare, pounding drums of P.J. Rogalski and the creeping intonations of bassist Jeff Albertson. And although “Mr. Pussy” is more instrumentally balanced, what makes this album (and The Lights in general) interesting is that far from being buried in guitar athleticism, the drums and bass are allowed to set the tone in an extremely dominant manner.
Though the familiar vocal droning of “Boobs Again” seems ripped from the track list of a Beat Happening album, the style enriches Wood and Wire’s fabric even if it stands out as musically derivative. All together, it’s a savory collection that, like any snack pack, runs out far too quickly. (Erika Fredrickson)
The Lights play the Union Hall Saturday, April 30, at 8 PM. Also appearing are Volumen, Two Year Touqe, Charming Snakes, Gonken and Mathematicians. Tickets cost $8.
Leap Before You Look
Melefluent is a 5-year-old power-trio from Coeur d’Alene, and Leap Before You Look is the band’s first release—an 11-track effort that flows together harmoniously without sounding repetitive. One reason might be that Darren Wilson and Joe Welk trade off on guitar and bass, imbuing just about every other song with a slightly different feel. Melefluent merges distorted guitars, big-sounding drums, reggae beats, a little rap and honky cow-funk into an addictive lo-fi garage sound.
For instance, “Dub-uh-lo-seben” opens up with a deep, rumbling bass line, followed by a rap resting on a bed of Hendrix-y funk and fuzz guitar—there’s even a backward guitar solo toward the end. “Dangerous World” is an enticing blend of ska-beats and funk-rock hooks that steers you toward the dance floor.
Leap Before You Look is a collection of album-oriented songs, but Melefluent has a reputation for jamming out in concert. “Coronahh” hints of the band’s unusual, though deft, abilities in that field. If you like bands like Sublime, Leap Before You Look might be your bag. (Eric Segalstad)
Melefluent plays two nights at The Top Hat Saturday, April 30, and Sunday, May 1. Both shows start at 10 PM. Cover TBA. Call 728-9865.
The problem with expository songwriting is that, try as its practitioners might, they never actually induce much emotion. Phrases like, “I’m just scared of losing you” or “trying to believe in this world” or “I’m trying to let go” provide only vague references to universal emotions.
Casual Drama’s new album, These Dreams, is riddled with such abstract lyrics and emotional clichés. Lacking in rich imagery or evocative poesy, it plays out like a vast and monochromatic landscape unmarked by concrete features. That’s a shame, because the trio, which consists of Max Allyn (guitar/voice), Adam Loewen (bass) and Checkers Barker II (drums) are musically adept, and the album is instrumentally tight.
Unfortunately, the emo-rock style that suffuses the album feels formulaic, partly due to predictable chord changes and predictable themes. Seven of the 11 songs contain the word “crying” (at least once) and the “you” in most every song seems to be entrapped in one long relationship talk. Surely the intent of These Dreams is sincere, and the cover of Mr. Mister’s “Take These Broken Wings” is kind of awesome (and funny). But Casual Drama, with all its talent, could step it up a notch with far fresher poetic design. (Erika Fredrickson)
Casual Drama hosts a CD release party at UM’s UC Ballroom Saturday, April 30. Ever Since the Accident and Hello Numan open. The show starts at 8 PM and tickets cost $2.
The first song on the debut album from this funky, seven-piece fusion band from Bismarck, N.D., is a Phish-like oomp-pa-pa waltz about glorious Victoria Lee sailing victoriously on a ship powered by destiny’s wings—or something fantastical like that. The second song is a jazzy, String Cheese Incident-sounding track with dueling guitar and saxophone solos that eventually break down into an Afro-Cuban percussion jam. The third song follows suit, which is to say it’s just as distinct as the first two—this time a salty blues ballad with a whiny trumpet and barstool piano and lines like “My baby, she don’t care/About the fact that the world’s gone crazy.”
And this is just the beginning: Give Gypsyfoot enough time and the young dudes will whip out reggae beats, southwestern salsa flare, Jeff Buckley-ish love songs, and a serious ’70s funk explosion on the instrumental “Get in the Groovemobile.” This is only an 11-song CD, but I’m hard-pressed to name two tracks that cover the same ground.
Gypsyfoot isn’t the sort of band that can sit on replay in your stereo. Diversity doesn’t automatically translate into accessibility—with so many sounds to choose from I stumbled across at least five tracks that either didn’t interest me in this context or were too jam-driven to digest. Nonetheless, there are good ingredients here, and enough to suspect that Gypsyfoot has staying power. (Skylar Browning)
Gypsyfoot plays The Top Hat Thursday, April 28, starting at 10 PM. FREE.