Saturday, April 24, 2010

Progress Notes

The Eastern Sea, Parachute Musical
Hole in the Wall, 4/22

It seems I'm writing about The Eastern Sea every week lately (I still have a review to complete of their second self-titled EP, lovely), but there's a reason I keep going to see them and listening to their records. There's a lot there to think about. They take a style of music I almost always hate (the neo/Eno-folk of Neutral Milk Hotel, a billion bands from Brookyln, etc.) and make it sound detailed, surprising, and rhythmically interesting. Also, they will play anywhere, at any time, and literal accessibility never hurt any band's cause.

At this latest show there was a good amount of new material, as yet unrecorded, to digest. I've yet to see The Eastern Sea really leave a stage in ruins, as I believe they have the potential to do, but to their credit that is mostly because they've been bringing in first many new players and now a bunch of new songs. Good. I've always believed you want to turn over your whole setlist with new songs before trying to record an album. I'm quite impressed by the way that the new tunes sidestep the natural progression with an expanded, louder lineup: instead of getting broader and more in line with each other, the songs have intricate and quite separate rhythms for the drums, guitars, bass, strings, and horns to play. They're less melodic with the additional instruments, and that's nervy and appropriate. They don't arrange like a rock band at all, with basslines that drop in and drop out and songs that shift moods instead of cycling through verses and choruses. They need some more reps to get everything working together properly, but I have a lot of faith in the band.

As for Parachute Musical, of Nashville, for them I felt only pity. Their drummer and guitarist made great efforts to enliven things, but I felt I'd heard and seen all of their moves after two songs and that was indeed the case. The sound is piano-driven indie, but all I listen for is writing and these fellows just didn't have any. Standard changes, standard beats, forgettable words. It's hard to be on tour in a band that has nothing new to offer. Particularly in a city where there's 25 bands doing exactly the same thing.

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