Saturday, October 23, 2010

Once in a while, I like doing a music entry. Yesterday, I was intrigued by Heather Browne (of Fuel, Fire)'s post about a Pacific Northwest invasion. As a Pacific Northwest aficionado and lover of West Coast bands, I decided to check out the bands. I knew I could trust Heather because we both love Blind Pilot, Band of AnnualsRyan Adams and Pete Yorn, and boy, was I right to click on those links. 
I was blown away by the song "Bootstraps" by Drew Grow and the Pastors' Wives. But the revelation, if I may call it that, came when I listened to the song "Coeur d'Alene". At first, I thought if was part of "Cats and Dogs" because the two songs blend seamlessly. The final notes of "Cats and Dogs" blend into the first notes of "Coeur d'Alene". That's a genius move. 

The Head and the Heart seems like it incorporates the best of Band of Annuals (from SLC) and Blind Pilot (from Portland), while remaining completely original. The lead singer's voice does to me what Jay Henderson of Band of Annuals does to me: it soothes and moves me at the same time. It's sexy, emotional, and yet detached, and from another time.
Some of my favorite lines in that song are,

"What will become of these gestures that we made
I've given up my Bible, you moved out of state"   *

"Give you three bucks for your sympathy 

and another for a cigarette
The interaction feels so cold"
"So kiss me in the back room where the music plays
I know that it's not over"
My favorite moment, because of the intensity of the singer's voice when he sings that last line, is,  

"Break down the corridors
La-da-da, da-da-da da da
Break down the corridors
La-da-da, da-da-da da da
Messes that I haven't tried to clean up in a while"

If you don't fall in love with the piano part after that line, then you can't possibly love life.

Also, how can one put much resistance when someone sings,

"You're in my soul now
 you've gotta waste away with me
my mind's made up, I'm stayin' here with you,

There's no use knowin'
which way the wind is blowin'
my mind's made up, I'm doin' this, I'm doin' this with you"

There's nothing I like more than a song whose rhythm picks up mid-song. That's the case in Down in the Valley. Add male-female harmonies ** and a piano, and I'm ready to declare my love for the band by jumping on a couch on national television. 

"Bootstraps", the first song I truly loved, is by Drew Grow. It's noisy. It's buoyant. It's joyous noise the way I like it. The lyrics are short and punchy, 

I drank alone for a fortnight
a yellow year by dim light.
"I'm Born again!"
Brand new jeans down to cut-offs,
and cigarettes on rooftops,
Chain it up. Chain it up.
I tell myself I want it,
I tell myself I need it.
Every time I get it this is how I'm wound up.
Play it loud. Play it loud, get it on.
(...pulling on the bootstraps)

The band's website
describes their sound as "soul, alt-gospel, garage rock". Sometimes, it's reminiscent of
Grace Potter and the Nocturnals' best moments on This is Somewhere (I'm thinking most specifically of In The Meantime, Oh Mary and Mastermind), but more testosterone-filled -- though Grace Potter's music is pretty ballsy too-- mostly because of the gospel influence. 
It All Comes Right" is another song that immediately struck me as special. The chorus is full of "oh whoa whoa oh whoa whoa" blending together male and female voices, in a heavenly sound.
My favorite lines are, 

"Honey, make me a promise
the kind that holds true.
You carry the ark and I'll carry you" 
The last line is sung in harmony by the lead singer and the background vocalist, a woman. It makes the line especially amazing because it sounds like they're promising each other what he wanted her to promise him.  Throughout the song, the background vocals are to die for. They'll stay with you after the song is over. 

* I don't know why but the line "you moved out of state" or its variation "you moved out of town" always makes me tear up. It moves me like no-one lyric. Every time a song has that line, you can bet I'm going to stop doing whatever it is I'm doing when I hear it.

** Male-female harmonies are the reason why I love Band of Annuals, Pete Yorn & Scarlett Johansson and Ryan Adams and Whiskeytown so much. 

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