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While Lost At Sea endeavors to write about a great deal of the music it receives, there are hundreds of releases that slip through the cracks - things too strange, too transient or (yes) too bad to earn a full review. EPs and CD singles are particularly hard to deal with because there are so many of them - and they are so small - that they often get lost in the shuffle, literally and figuratively. This sometimes means that deserving music in non-album form is not reaching the people who might enjoy it most.
In an attempt to save some of this music from obscurity, Lost At Sea has dredged through recently received EPs and singles to weed out a select few and recommend them to readers.
"The destruction of everything sacred and beautiful" would be an ambitious enough subject for an entire album; doing it on a four-track EP is true hubris. The band carries little of their reported Smiths influence here, instead opting for somber, portentous, political tones. The dark and slow music falls closer to Canada's famed post-rock scene than it does to fellow Montreal bands like the Stars or the Arcade Fire, but it's still grounded in solid - albeit eerie - pop structure. The tacked-on remix is the only objectionable thing here.
Nice/Splittin' Peaches EP
Few bands rock the kraut-psych sound as stylishly as Oneida. Their breakneck release schedule keeps anyone but serious fans from hearing everything they put out, but even neophytes will want to hear cookers like the 15-minute krautrock throb of "Hakuna Matata" (no apparent Lion King connection). The scattered guitars and drawn-out vocal tones over a steady, distant machine pulse put the band close to Sunburned Hand of the Man territory than ever before.
Sit Down For Staying EP
The last three or four years have featured a remarkable resurgence in shoegaze, dream pop and affiliated genres, with scores of bands reclaiming the classic gossamer sounds of Slowdive, My Bloody Valentine and early Lilys. The Portland, Ore.-based Charmparticles are one of the most recent entries, and if their glossy, pining guitars and pretty boy-girl voices are not a radical development, they are certainly a welcome return.
It's an all-girl band that relies on "dynamics" and "hooks" and an "ability to play instruments" rather than a dumb gimmick or lipstick with mind control drugs in it. The appropriately named group plays driving, jittery rock with some icy keyboard accompaniment. The keys incorporation into the music is a bit rough but there's definite potential in this six-song disc.
New Sense EP
Like great white hope the Postal Service, the Midwesterners in New Sense cautiously insert some drum machines and New Order-isms into their pop. It's just icing on the cake of really sharp pop songs, leaning toward the moody lovelorn shared garden wall between the homes of indie pop and new wave.
The Nein EP
The Nein play sharp nervy post-punk - songs like "Handout" wouldn't be out of place side by side with the likes of the Bloc Party, while the jittery, gnarled crawl of "Giorgio" would fit nicely in the DC hardcore scene. It's a promising and highly political start for this North Carolina band.
Francophiles & Skinny Ties EP
This is garage rock with a tight, fast rhythm section. Is it disturbing that the idea of cleanly producing a simple three-man band with equal play for each instrument seems novel? Shouldn't this be the default? Maybe it should. Maybe beginnings rock bands should take a cue from this EP.
Luke Temple EP
Luke Temple is a West Coast by way of East Coast singer-songwriter who has some good songs and some not as good songs on this EP. Hopefully the chugging power-pop of "B-Bird" is more indicative of where he'd like to go than the pleasantly forgettable '70s folkery, "Make Right With You."
Erick Bieritz lives in Chicago, where is usually either very hot or very cold. He was the brainchild behind EPMD, where he wrote about EPs and singles for LAS, looking for overlooked or underappreciated non-album releases.
See other articles by Erick Bieritz.
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