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Feature Crush: C.D. On Songs, 08/18/09

August 18, 2009

Plumerai- “Electrical Mess” [download]

When people think of things that count as “electric,” they most often will think of wires, machinery, computers and other man-made structures. One thing we don’t often rememeber is that electricity occurs naturally, in the sky. Plumerai’s “Electrical Mess” is reminiscent of such a storm, all murky and
swirling but at the same same illuminated by its own natural light.

“Electrical Mess” even starts out like a storm as the bottom heavy guitar sounds off in the distance, continually growing impossibly closer and louder with every report. The ricky-ticky sound of electronic rain starts to pelt the roof of the song as the bassy guitar (and, ostensibly, bass guitar) really take charge of the song, shaping it up into the true electric(al) mess that it becomes once everyone’s really hitting.

It is on this foundation that vocalist Elizabeth Ezell finds her foothold; illuminating the otherwise dark form of the song with a little vocal light. Ezell provides some contrast to the sound of the track while still sounding like part of the natural environment as the darkness of her vocal tone matches up well with the overall feel of “Electrical Mess” yet does not fade into the rumbling clouds.

In much the same way the vocals lead the song yet are undeniably a product of their environment, this is definitely a “feel” song – it shows off the style of the band more than being its own setpiece. “Electrical Mess” is a dark, chaotic world that comes fully realized in the four-minute run of the song. What will Plumerai do with an entire record?

Boy In Static – Starlet (Freezepop Remix) [download]

Electronic music can have many effects on the human brain. Freezepop’s remix of Boy in Static’s “Starlet” has an oddly calming effect, like riding in an expensive automobile. The scenery hurtles by at varied speeds and you’re certain that you’re moving at a substantial rate, but the ride is just so smooth that you have to remind yourself that motion can feel like this. Such is the case with this track, a pleasingly smooth trip past neon signs and other symbols of the not-too-distant future.

The only organic sound to be found in “Starlet” are the placid vocals that occasionally reach to human indulgences of feeling. The vagary of “feeling” without straight up living color emotion puts this track at an odd place, as the vocals lightly glide over a cloud of arpeggiated synth and reverb-laden electronic drum beats. The pinging sounds of the synthesizer resemble an odd form of radar, making one feel almost like they are in some form of musical cockpit of a spaceship on autopilot.

While the overall smoothness of “Starlet” makes the idea of travel almost an illusion; it has the distinction of actually bringing the listener somewhere notable. This track builds to a soft crescendo before giving way to a drum break that leads the song out, almost before its time.

Who Carries the Lantern – “Delectus Personae” [download]

Sometimes the hero in the movie has to put on their black leather jacket and go someplace menacing (like an autobody shop) in order to get valuable information. These menacing places are usually playing some pretty intimidating music. Music like Who Carries the Lantern’s “Delectus Personae” a perfect piece by which to bludgeon and/or be bludgeoned. If you forgot your blunt weapon, that’s OK, just turn this track up a little bit past half-way and any unsuspecting soul will be caught momentarily off-guard by the sheer brutality of WCtL’s savage rhythm section (although one gets the idea that the entire band is the rhythm section). And it was recorded in an auto body shop.

“Delectus Personae” starts with a 7.5 second squeal of feedback/noise, the kind of which makes one check all their connections to make sure that the audio equipment is properly set-up. After this brief test of the Emergency Hardcore Broadcast System, the group slams into place like an anvil hitting a dusty floor. The band is almost mathematically precise in their guitar-less rhythmic performance, thundering in perfect time with one another like a well-choreographed beating.

The vocals are harsh in the way you might expect, but there is a distinct feeling of solidarity to the sound of “Delectus Personae.” Sometimes the vocals that come with such hard music sound almost tortured by the other sounds, but they sound perfectly at home in the ultimately tasty “Delectus Personae.”

The Living Sea – “Travel” [download]

What is The Living Sea besides the best IMAX film that Matt Carpenter from Austin Texas had seen up to July 6, 1999? It’s not the disappointing-now-renamed EPCOT Center attraction – that was “The Living Seas.” It’s rather a Boston band in place (in various configurations) since 2004. Regardless of what springs to mind before hearing the Boston band of the same name (as the IMAX film), all previous references should and will be immediately replaced by the jaunty, nigh-poppy sounds the likes of which are on display in The Living Sea’s “Travel.”

This is a real sea-faring jumping-jack of a song chock full of energy more indicative of 10-foot swells of the open ocean rather than the calm and glassy waters of your local lake. The energy of the band is surprising for a band that has been a band for around five years – they sound like fresh-faced youngsters still excited by every musical turn and opportunity to perform. This effervescence translates directly through “Travel” directly into the listener’s ears.

Vocalist Catie Rae Zappala’s strong voice personifies this band-wide energy with a confident and capable vocal performance that throws punches, soars from rooftops and calls to action all within the space of one verse-chorus progression. Zappala is one of those special/annoying people whose entire vocal range is her strong-suit, and her long notes are like treats to the listener, wrapped up and delivered regularly throughout the run of this catchy, hooky track.

Want to submit your band’s song to C.D. On Songs?
To be reviewed in a C.D. On Songs column:

  • Be a Boston-based band/artist.
  • Email a single mp3/m4a/etc. (or a download link to one) to cdonsongs (at) gmail (dot) com, with the subject line “C.D. on Songs” (DO NOT send us a bunch of songs and make us pick, we will ignore you). We require a file – not a streaming link.
  • Include album cover art if you have any. If you don’t, a band photo or logo is acceptable.
  • We will assume that we have your permission to make the song downloadable on Boston Band Crush (readers will want to hear it, after all).
  • If that’s not ok with you, say so and provide us with a link to the song on an embeddable player like ReverbNation – something we can include in the post (and not just link to).

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