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   Tuesday, March 13, 2007  
Funny who gets noticed and who doesn't. Take Carolyn Berk and Tara Jane O'Neil. The latter releases the pleasant post-folk of In cirles on an 'interesting' label and it gets written up, and favourably, in plenty of the right places. Songs like Blue light room and The louder sound a bit like Berk's vehicle Lovers, but drabber. Yet Lovers latest full-length appears and seems to be barely noticed at all.
Sleep with heat is album no.3 and their most assured, roundly satisfying collection yet. It's the same but different. Lovers has always worked to a pretty narrow stylistic palette but the familiar swirling, glistening strum-with-strings is beaten up a bit from time to here. From a highway is the closest Berk & co. get to actually rocking out, a grungy swinger closed out with trombone and trumpet. Lucky ones who love you ups the pace a bit, almost breaking sweat in a 'Because the night' kind of way and it's bedrock jangly thump is also the cornerstone of Frozen flood.
But you're never far away from that trademark lush, hazy sway. Berk's clean strum and wistful-yet-robust vocal (think Maria Taylor meets Jenny Lewis) remain the omnipresent foundations and the accompanying strings-brass-banjo ensemble gets its roomiest, boomiest production yet. As before, Daniel Rickard is key here alongside Jesse Flavin and Brent Jones. (This trio also crewed fellow Athens outfit The Good Ship whose solitary offering to date is also well worth tracking down by connoisseurs of literate backwoods langour.) Opener Perpetual Motion, Perpetual Sound is absolutely prototypical Lovers [hear hear] and if you like that you really will like it all...

[Tara Jane O'Neil plays the King's Head, Crouch End 25 April; In cirles streams here]

To the Windmill for My Sad Captains. First the good news: guitarist Nick has ditched the flashy Gibson number for a Fender Tele. (Not that there any are rules about these things but hey, a natural order does seem to obtain and a Les Paul surely has no place in a band like this;-) And the bad news? Er, there isn't any just like there isn't a bad song in their set. One very new number would "be better with a bit of practice" assured Ed and this blog is quite prepared to take him at his word since tonight's set really locked into place with Good to go, a clunky fledgling when last heard. Ghost song and Bad decisions caught the flow while Never miss a trick now features an ace little breakdown. We clapped our hands, said 'Yeah'...

reallyrather first stumbled across the Captains in Jan-Feb last year around the same time as tipping up an accomplished self-release from across the pond, Broom by Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin. In the strange way of things, My Sad Captains will be back at The Windmill in June opening for.. Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin. And this band occasionally leaps to mind when listening to the mini-album from new Cali-pop darlings The Little Ones..which is curiouser still since Yeltsin's Broom has since been picked up by Polyvinyl. A few years back this label put out a couple of albums by Sunday's Best. The core of this now-defunct band were singer Ed Reyes and guitarist Ian Moreno who have now resurfaced as...The Little Ones!
The many British press splurges re TLOs seem blissfully ignorant of this fact, reporting the band as having sprung fully formed from out of a clear blue west coast sky. Not that Sunday's Best had that much to offer but if TLOs had lobbed songs like Salt mines of Santa Monica or The Californian into their very well-received set opening for The Boy Least Likely To at the Scala recently few would've complained...

A bit of snap, kick, that's what The Little Ones have that SSLYBY don't quite, nor My Sad Captains for that matter. It wouldn't do them any harm down there in slack city and its a quality definitely available in 14 pretty fab bite-size chunks on My Teenage Stride's Ears like golden bats. An excellent example of the well-aimed freebie courtesy of Jorge at Becalmed Records, ELGB offers up oodles of clipped '80s indie jangle strongly reminiscent of.. oh, you know, everyone you ever liked from back then..Postcard label, bit of Jam, Skids, Smiths and occasionally way beyond. There's top tunes galore, each with a comfortable instant familiarity for sure but filtered through a light post-Strokes NY sensibility.
The set opens with a killer 1-2-3, Reception, That should stand for something and To live and die in the airport lounge being a faultless salvo of skittering, ringing guitars, tambos, and neat on-the-money drumming. Terror bends gleeful guitar riff tightens up the kind of treats the lovely Language of Flowers (still?) like to dish up; Chock's rally is a sharp, pushy little pleaser while Ruin is a rare drop down the gears. Band leader Jedediah Smith's voice is easily up to the slightly baroque emoting here and the set glides out on the dubby lightness of Boys will tell. Yes, all very familiar shapes but the pleasure here is a bit like zipping round town on a shiny new Vespa - those classic lines but powered by contemporary tuning. Va-va-voom...
[my teenage stride][on myspace][becalmed]

And Ears.. is just the sort of sound you can expect to hear between the live sets at the Fortuna Pop! session at Notting Hill Arts Club this coming Saturday. Not entirely sure that this label is My Sad Captains' natural home but, hey, they'll be there and it's free. Vintage Gola sports bags ahoy!
   posted by SMc at 11:38 AM |