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Feature Crush: C.D. on Songs, 01/14/10

January 14, 2010
It’s that time of the week again, time for C.D. on Songs. We’re doing the “download” business differently now. At the bottom of this post (before the usual “How to Submit…” section), you will find one download link. This brings you a zip file containing each of this week’s selections. We trust you know how to deal with this. I mean, you are on the Internet, right?

The Novel Ideas – “The Sky”

Everyone loves fast food and having it all – right now – but there is something good to be said for taking an investment into something and having that investment be worth it. You are not going to fully get “The Sky” on your first listen. You might not know what’s going on, and could possibly feel like it’s flying over your head, catching random $5 words like “metaphysically” and the notion of a melody and perhaps some harmonious vocals.
“What good is that?” you may ask, and in some cases, we would answer “Absolutely none at all,” but this is not the case with the Novel Ideas. The nice thing about this track is that it intrigues. Even if you don’t catch the idea at first, you catch the notion that you want to know more. You
want in on this song.
“The Sky” tells its story in a gentle manner through its undertones of yearning and the suggestion that something is happening…somewhere. The good thing about them is that they make us care. It will take some intellectual investment on the part of the listener, but it is an investment that will yield returns for those who want in.

Forest Henderson – “The Things I Could Do”

We’ve learned from listening to lots – yes, lots – of songs, that one cool thing that an artist can do is to establish a motif for a song. It’s sort of a musical statement that determines the literal and figurative tenor of a song. Forest Henderson’s “The Things I Could Do” is a good example of a well-stated and executed song motif.
Forest Henderson’s motif is a set of two five-part chord progressions. Down, then up. The chords shimmer calmly under a storm of guitar and passionate-yet-frustrated vocals. The vocal seems fixated upon dreaming of all the things that they could do to you. Or me. I’m gonna be honest, I hope it’s you, because these guys seem pretty intense.
This song is very well-focused to the point that the motif and the chorus are the main things that will stick with the listener well after this song’s time is past on your MP3 player. The song goes out the way it came in, with those chords shimmering out of the sonic field, fading back into nothing. But we get the impression that Forest Henderson isn’t giving up that easily. Oh, Mike.

The Main Drag – “Don’t Let Me Down”

You know that you secretly hate The Main Drag. I mean, come on. What was up with that song in Rock Band 2? Expecting any gamer/armchair rocker to take on the rich textures and earnestly dynamic vocals is like asking the kid at McDonald’s to roast you up some prime rib.
Lucky for the listener but unlucky for whoever is going to try to follow the little glowing “sing like this” arrow on their videogame console, the Main Drag makes this sort of blinking electronic maze their bread and butter, serving up a deep set of glowing tracks to follow in “Don’t Let Me Down.” Melodically speaking, there is enough happening in this track to keep your head spinning.
The result is not sensory overload but sensory saturation – you just hit that point to keep your ears full and the mind interested. The Main Drag doesn’t use their technology to alienate the listener, but they rather put it to work creating complex systems of technological beauty that expresses the human condition rather than covering it up. The Main Drag has the ability to sound like their hearts are all breaking and repairing themselves multiple times over in slow motion, and we’re OK with that.

Mascara – “B261”

Christopher Mascara (yes, that is is real, unchanged name – or at least that’s what he told us) is, above all, a showman. He’s such a showman that the Rock Band guys (yes, Rock Band again) had him don one of those spandex suits with ping-pong balls on it to motion-capture his moves. “B261” is the real deal, however, with no digital animation or special effects.
This really isn’t a problem, Mascara is a special effect unto themselves. Each song – and this one is no different – is like its own little mini-show. Maybe that’s what they’re getting at with the title of this record (that comes out in five short days) – Mascara seems able to flip a switch and launch a fountain of tears, laughter, hysteria and every other extreme emotion with little effort. “B261” is no different, hitting like a series of explosions embodied not just in Mascara’s vocal calisthenics but the entire ensemble’s ability to ramp things up, explode, and then simmer for a while before the next trip up the ramp.
“B261” is like a repeated series of trips up and down, jumping off a ledge only to dust itself off and do so again, and bringing us along for the ride the whole way. We get the feeling that you’ll want the full picture on this one, so you can catch Mascara on January 29 at the Middle East. It’ll be hard to miss them.

Brendan Boogie and the Best Intentions – “I Remember Teen-Aged Girls”

For all his leering on the album cover over there, Brendan Boogie expertly avoids all forms of restraining orders and wary parents with his very first lyric – he is remembering things about teen-aged girls, not collecting them in his basement or anything, so your younger sisters are safe.
This trip back to Mr. Boogie’s youth comes in retrospective, and is thusly a much more honest trip-back-through-youth than any form of 30-something band trying to sing as if they are still in high school. This song comes through the lens of someone who is – let’s face it – our age. The Boogie-man and his Intentions express the youthful spirit of his memories, yet in a mature manner that keeps these years in perspective.
The retrospective aspects of this song makes you feel like you’re in Happy Days. Mister Miyagi’s sign is glowing and the milkshakes are real, but you can still see the corners of the set and the shadow of the studio audience. It is in this that we find the success of “I Remember Teen-Aged Girls,” it is not the story itself but the framing of the story where we finally see – despite his better efforts – the skill of Sir Boogie and his group. So we pump our fists and sing along with the free-flying chorus and remember right along with him.

Bone Dry System – “Take Her Home”

Yes. This cover art does resemble that of a Portishead single. Does that mean that Bone Dry System is going to spend a melancholy 3:45 of our lives complaining that nobody loves them? Absolutely not. Bone Dry System, it would appear, is here to enervate us with their own brand of upwardly-mobile rock, complete with a driving rhythm section and some Foo-Fighters style heavy guitar work.
“Take Her Home” is mostly blood and thunder, blustering through your system like a train passing nearby, with a conductor leaning out the side, calling out the chorus in strong, powerful voice. The vocal adds additional body to the sound of this track, filling in the spots where the guitar chooses to refrain from comment. Don’t you worry about that guitar, though, it’s got plenty to scream about in a perfectly-portioned solo towards the waning minute of the track.
This song has an odd emotional character that is difficult to nail down. It sounds as if they feel strongly but it’s hard to define that feeling past the word “strongly.” This is not to say there is a lack of dynamics in the tune – its surges and starts involve the listener – but the power of this song is what leaves an enduring mark.

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).

  1. the links are down!

  2. Thank you for your kind words. You got it all wrong, but thanks anyway.

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