Smile Politely

B-Sides: August 2013

Single Player — Could Care Less

With tones and modes hearkening back to Neutral Milk Hotel, Guided By Voices, Dino Jr. and Sugar, the newest release from Sean Neumann’s Single Player recalls summer drives and walking around aimlessly at night, evoking both musical and existential nostalgia. The simple, mantra-like lyrics, and the hushed-until-yelled melodies are beautiful and a nice counterpart to the sometimes overtly energetic and whimsical elements of pop-punk present on the tape. Clocking in at just over thirteen minutes, Could Care Less puts the flash in flashback. It comes to us just in time, here at the end of August — as soon as the last track quiets, I wonder, “Is it — like summer — already over?” As Neumann says in the sixth track, “I’m trying to communicate” — he just doesn’t have the time. Dude didn’t even have time to name the tracks. Shit’s impending.

NOTE: One must give Neumann, a student, credit enough to know exactly what words he was using when titling his album. It’s not “Couldn’t Care Less.” It’s “Could Care Less.” Though they are anymore used interchangeably (incorrectly), I would encourage one to consider the difference. SPOILER ALERT: This means he cares. Possibly very much.
Stream the record here, and purchase the cassette, out on local label Rat King Records, here. — Isaac Arms

Fauve — Light

It’s not so often that I’m so struck by varied styles as I was when I popped in new band Fauve’s debut EP Light. The band, which hails from Urbana, features many sounds that anyone can appreciate, regardless of taste. While front-man Joe Meland’s influence is more metal-based than I’d usually choose to listen to, I can appreciate the intricacies of each track. Mr. Meland composed the entire project and somehow found a way for the rest of his crew (8 musicians in all) to all shine at various points in my listen. It’s apparent and obvious that each song was composed to both impress and surprise the listener, which it most certainly did. For example, penultimate track “Nectar” features limited choral-sounding vocals over guitar and drums that would fit more with head banging and screaming.

Though that may sound conflicting and confusing to the listener, the two actually mesh quite well, leaving me wondering what I just heard immediately after I have finished.  The sounds become even more varied on Light‘s final (and my personal favorite) track “Still Breathing”. This track features beautiful keys, percussion, and strings which contrast so sharply with the previous track that, after listening, I found myself taking almost a literal breath of fresh air. All in all, I’ve found myself curiously drawn to Fauve’s debut EP Light like a moth to a flame because of these varying styles and influences. One would naturally be skeptical of a mixture of such styles, but when it is done so tastefully, it leaves me wondering why the EP only have 4 tracks. Cheers to these guys for stepping outside of a cultural box and into the realm of experimentation and for doing it so tastefully. — Boswell Hutson

Acker — EP 1

Perhaps the band Acker’s Facebook description says it best; “loud, no vocals, tempos vary, timbres vary.” That’s a pretty concise description of what you’re in for on their recent release, EP 1, a collection of five instrumental noise-rock cuts that run the gamut from soft, slow shoegaze to garage sludge jams, often within the same track. The homemade feel fits the music perfectly; you’d half expect to be hearing these songs live in a basement apartment on a Saturday night and nodding/swaying along to each one. Dynamics are used well throughout, which is more than half the battle for this type of release, and some interesting use of strings adds a fair dose of creepy to the tracks featuring it (notably track 4, “The Mid-Atlantic Waste”). Overall, EP 1 is a good start for this local rock outfit, and enough to make you curious to see what they come up with next. — Jason Brown

An Evening With Your Mother/Jack Anthony and the Desperadoes — Uncertain Harvest

The closest city called Stockholm may be more than 400 miles away, nestled along the Mississippi RIver in west Wisconsin, yet Jack Anthony and the Desperadoes could march through the long journey with such indifference it’ll seem nothing but apropos. Uncertain Harvest, their debut release split with C-U folk veterans An Evening With Your Mother, is certainly one of the more gripping albums to have dawned upon the local scene at the end of the summer. It’s truly been a fascinating experience hearing these two artists collaborate together so fluidly these past few months, and did well to prove their prowess live, outside of Red Herring two weeks ago. “Stockholm” is a crispy dose of spaghetti folk perfectly suited for that end-of-summer soundtrack, and “I Won’t Stop” carries ambition so soulful it exemplifies a desperado’s devotion to the life of an outlaw: “Changing seasons’ done a number on my head / Jobs that I have done have turned my pride red / Maybe I’ll spend a day just wandering around / Wondering if I’ll ever leave from this town”.

AEWYM wove in three tracks of their own, sounding off with a modest trumpet and ending with crashing hats in “Uncertain”. Their last song, ”The Test”, delivers the same cryptically serene lyrics, but with little more kick to their chorus jams: “It’s ‘sic semper fi’, your history / is nearly as twisted as mine”. Overall, it’s a definite developmental milestone for both groups that’ll definitely keep you starving for whatever they’ll be planting next spring. — Brendan Denison

B-Sides is a monthly article designated for local albums released that might get overlooked for feature articles, but are definitely worth discussing. If you’re interested in your band’s record being featured on B-Sides, let us know at [email protected]. Note: Because some albums featured in B-Sides are released at the end of the previous month, we sometimes bump them to the next month.

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