Songs from Free Energy: Love Sign
I have respect for bands that go all out for their sound. If you are going to do ambient synth tunes, give me 18 minutes of wonked out sorcery. Garage rock? I want so much fuzz people ask if the speakers are broken. Free Energy strive for the bubble gum infused version of power pop that requires warm power chords, major keys, cowbells and gigantic sing-along choruses. To their credit, they check off all the requirements with enthusiastic gusto. I would understand someone not liking Free Energy, but it shouldn’t be because they cut any corners. You can listen to about half their new record, Love Sign, below to get a taste of where they are coming from with their second LP. From the anthemic, surgery sweet “Electric Fever” to the funky pop of “Street Survior” to the pop crunch of “Hangin,” the band are not afraid of larger than life melodies. Even when the band slows down, like on the gentle, jangly “Dance All Night,” the band craft a song that sounds ready made for an emotional climax of some mid level romantic comedy. Their material seems tailored made for soundtracks, songs crafted for moments of euphoria that transcend belief and elevate moments into something larger than just their everyday context. If you are predisposed a)believing in these moments and b)wanting songs to accompany them, I have a record for you. If you are a grouch like me, you may quickly find yourself with gut rot from the saccharine material on Love Sign.
Love Sign didn’t connect with me as much as their debut LP, Stuck on Nothing, maybe because the sound has a half life that finds my interest waning over time. It is a record that continues their trend of being unabashed in their quest for power pop nirvana, and may even take a step forward in rounding out their sound. If you dig the material below, grab their record and you can see them Saturday night, January 26th at the Turf Club.
Pony Trash: Pony Trash EP Review
The descriptors that accompany the press release to Pony Trash’s debut EP paint a pretty telling picture: “Velvety…drenched…blue…fuzzy haze…”. In short, they have taken most of the best dream-pop adjectives and left only a few for reviewers. But such descriptors can only tell you so much – and applied liberally to every reverb-happy band in the country, to a certain extent they have lost some of their meaning.
I think a better descriptor comes in Sara Bischoff’s (who plays in Heavy Deeds with Pony Trash bassist Chris Bierden) metaphor for the band’s sound, which she compares to being swaddled in blankets and making out under the “sad and starry electric sky.” Bischoff’s description accurately depicts a dichotomy of cosmic loneliness as well as a lush intimacy – as does Pony Trash’s sound. On one hand the band’s vocalists (Chris Bierden, Neil Weir and Nate Nelson all contribute on vox) convey a sort of spacey remoteness, a sound not too dissimilar to the sound Pink Floyd achieved on Dark Side of the Moon (think Roger Waters on “Brain Damage”).
On the other, the reverb laden guitars, steeped heavily in shoegaze and dreampop modalities, create an atmosphere that is very cozy and snug. When paired together the elements convey an atmosphere conducive to the mysteries of the universe being discussed via pillow talk.
But quantum physics discussions these aren’t – Pony Trash’s dabbling in the infinite seems singularly confined to humanity’s greatest mystery. Behind the lyrical abstraction, the pathos conveyed through these bittersweet melodies leads one to believe that, at heart, they are love songs. Sad love songs (with occasional swaths of country twang) but love songs all the same. They are love songs set to the tune of some solid, albeit largely reserved instrumentation (Bierden’s bass-playing is as flawless as ever and Weir, Nelson, and Moltaji are no slouches either) and unfortunately when it comes to this EP, there are only four of them. Ideally Pony Trash will soon follow up with more, since when it comes to making out under the stars, the length of four tunes will only get you so far.
— Jon Behm
Pony Trash will play their EP release show this Friday (11/23) at the Turf Club
Gospel Gossip: Atlantic Blue 7″
I can still remember getting the CD (remember those?) of the debut album Sing Into My Mouth from Gospel Gossip. The crashing waves of fuzzy guitars and Sarah Nienaber’s pretty yet powerful vocals instantly hit the spot for me, even if their sound wasn’t fully realized on those early recordings. After taking a few years away from recorded material (and partaking in a lot of side projects), the group is back with their first batch of new songs since their 2009 Drift EP. The Atlantic Blue 7″ features three songs that find the band picking up right where they left off, creating songs too catchy for shoegaze and too noisy for pop. Time has treated this trio well and it is exciting to hear new material from the band, which hopefully means another EP or LP will be coming sooner before later. In celebration of the new songs (which you can stream below), the band are having a release show tonight at the Turf Club in St. Paul. The bill is incredibly solid from start to finish, with Leisure Birds, Magic Castles and Teenage Moods all setting the table for Gospel Gossip. If you are looking for an example of how great our music scene is, going to this show tonight at the Turf Club would be a good place to start.