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Feature Crush: C.D. on Songs, 03/04/10

March 4, 2010

Stereo Telescope – “Lighthouse”

A “song” is usually one voice, literally and figuratively. Stereo Telescope’s voice comes, well, in stereo. The dual-pronged attack comes from those two lookers you see over in the picture to the left. “Lighthouse” is a love story – sort of.

The slow burn of this vocal argument has the female (whom we shall call “Nikki”) and the male (heretofore referred to as “Kurt”) embroiled in… something. “Lighthouse” has definite theatrical value, without going over-the-top into musical theatre-world. The decision on the argument goes to Nikki, who has in her arsenal not only a wide range of vocal dynamics but the ultimately hooky chorus that will stick in your brain for the rest of the day.

While at first this just sounds like another case of attractive people arguing with each other inside a video game, there are more dynamic and rich musical textures that are buried just deep enough to not take over. This is one of those songs that you can listen “into” and find interesting parts as deep as you can hear. From the sounds of this well-put together track, they probably have melodies going in on the subsonic parts of the spectrum, you know, just in case.

David Brusie – “Fort Wayne”

For those of us packed into the tightly nestled city blocks of Cambridge, Boston and all its outlying areas, places with names such as “Fort Wayne” are distant rumors. How, then, will Mr. Brusie bring us the ideas and the essence of Fort Wayne in song?

Make no mistake – he will. It is in the arrangement that “Fort Wayne” really takes the listener on a bona fide trip. The sunny guitars and wide-open rhythms evoke the mental image of big skies, wide-open spaces and the speed and spirit needed to traverse such spaces. Brusie’s vocals are easy-going yet peppy, sticking with the major intervals in the scale, thus imparting an overly pleasant spirit.

This song has two gears, the highway of the verse and then the stop-time of the chorus, with simple tonic notes ticking away the quarter notes like a turn signal before Brusie spins the wheel and brings us back out into the great wide open, speeding along long, straight roads.

The Day Life – “Other Plans”

We all know what John Lennon said about making other plans. On first listen, it sounds like The Day Life is merely echoing his sentiments, but instead they are addressing someone who has lied whilst making their “Other Plans.”

While the opening strains sound almost wistful, The Day Life’s “Other Plans” is almost a miniature anthem of sorts. Now when the word “anthem” comes around, visions of arenas full of thousands of fists spring to mind, but “Other Plans” is a different kind of anthem. Most importantly, the world is invited to sing along, and it sounds as if a large portion of them already are, if we are to believe the shoo-bee-doo-wop-ow!-style backing vocals and falsetto leads.

This song has a thrown-together quality to it, as if a group of kids are hanging around the electric piano and just throwing stuff out there that all seems to land in the same spot. The result is a care-free bit of song that sounds comfortable in its own skin, and in that lies its charm.

Big East – “Like Daisy Does”

There’s this girl that everyone sings about. The Guess Who didn’t wanna see her face no more. Billy Joel admitted that she was frequently kind and suddenly cool. Robert Plant himself threw up his hands and asked hey, hey, what could he do? It seems as if Big East has also run afoul of this archetypal woman who is both irresistible and irrefutably mean.

What they do with her, however, is capture her perfectly in the hard-strutting “Like Daisy Does.” Big East exudes musical confidence in this track, bolstered by a straight-up guitar lead that locks into place like some swinging piece of machinery that finds home every go-round. They don’t sound exactly helpless in the grasp of this woman, this “Daisy,” but they certainly are not immune to her various charms and traps.

This song sits in that emotional mid-range that such a maddening person can create, sometimes calm, sometimes rather loud, but always solidly something. The vocals have a constant saturated bite to them, as if the overdrive needle is riding the line between yellow and red. And they know this, working the volume like another instrument in the drivers seat of this headstrong track.

Graph – “Box in the Basement”

Sometimes you expect one thing, you get another. You hear a band is named “graph” and you expect something, I don’t know, a little more mathematical to start ticky-tacking out the speakers at you. What you get with this particular Graph and their “Box in the Basement” is a surprisingly non-mathy approach that cannot be drawn merely by coloring in squares, unless they are exceptionally small ones.

“Box in the Basement” is marked not by weird time signatures and hits, but rather by a multiple guitar approach that keeps things moving along with bouncy melodies and churn-along chords. The chords come at us fast and furious, ringing only so long as they can before the next chord is struck. If we were to graph the energy level of this track, it would zig and zag like a mountain range – high but never really plateauing anywhere.

One will not find exactly solid footing in this song, it’s rather like walking along a beach in ankle-high water when the waves are crashing. Sometimes some of the floor slips out from beneath you, but the energy level stays high enough as to keep you moving.


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).

One Comment
  1. Thanks CD!!…little known fact, Kurt and I did have an ear-splitting argument inside the old atari favorite, Asteroids, during which the subsonic output was recorded and manipulated to create my actual vocal track. I never had to sing. Very cool.<3 nikki

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