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Album Review: The Pains of Being Pure at Heart – Higher Than the Stars EP

 
By on Wednesday, 7th October 2009 at 2:00 pm
 

Higher Than the Stars EP coverNew York City quartet the Pains of Being Pure at Heart released a new, five-track EP, ‘Higher Than the Stars’, in late September. It’s a slight departure from the band’s eponymous debut (released in February 2009 on Slumberland Records in America and Fortuna Pop! in the UK) that brought us ‘Everything with You’. But it still sounds like the Pains…, who in my opinion have been unfairly branded by the hipster-cum-twee pop genre label. Steve Lamacq predicted at the new year that shoegaze would make a comeback, and this band is evidence that the sound so big in the ‘90s can rise again in a newer, better form, with its dexterously lush guitars and emotional lyrics.

As per their debut album, at the forefront are the freewheeling guitars of bassist Alex Naidus and frontman Kip Berman, propelling the songs with a sense of urgency, augmented by keyboards from Peggy Wang and drumming from Kurt Feldman. Berman’s vocals and Wang’s harmonies round out the Pains’ sound. The title track is sublime, guitars and vocals washing over you like a midsummer’s kiss in the rain (see the video filmed by Seattle radio station KEXP at Portland’s Doug Fir Lounge below); the same could be said about ‘Twins’. ‘103′ is short and infectious. Love it. If you are old enough to remember, the instrumentation and vocals of ‘Falling Down’ will remind you of Kajagoogoo, but better! (Sorry Limahl.) Most unique in this set of songs: the Saint Etienne Visits Lord Spank Mix of ‘Higher Than the Stars’, in which a gentle song gets the rave treatment. Readers familiar with my current favourite artists as of late will not be surprised that I really dig this remix.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FpiG8KxFbCw[/youtube]

EPs afford bands the opportunity to branch out and record something between albums without being confined to the figurative boundaries of an album. According to Berman, this is exactly what they set out to do with this EP. Their effort succeeds admirably and leaves the listener eager for the band’s next album release. Let’s hope that appears sooner rather than later.

l-pains4

After the jump: more of my photos from the Pains at Being Pure at Heart gig at Washington DC’s Black Cat on 30th September 2009.

Continue reading Album Review: The Pains of Being Pure at Heart – Higher Than the Stars EP

 

Bands To Watch #82: Crayon Rosary

 
By on Wednesday, 11th February 2009 at 10:24 am
 

I only had to listen to one song from Crayon Rosary to decide they were a great band. Having stumbled across their myspace page I listened to the only track available and was simply blown away by the astonishing vocals and melodic keyboard playing.

This track was called “New York City” and is one hell of a hit single. Although gentle, It’s an excellent listen and some perfectionist acoustic guitar playing compliments the keyboard and children’stoys that feature throughout the track. But this is not why you should check out the track. The harmonised vocals from the only band members, Keith and Brendan is absolutely superb and comparable to the likes of the beach boys.

The next thing to wonder is are they a one hit wonder? The answer is clearly no after listening to the rest of the material on offer. Tracks like “Siren Song” and “Beehive” display the consistent talent and professionalism that the two lads have to offer.  These tracks are also in the same soft indie/folk style that is so easy listening for the ear but the songs do not sound over produced and there is a purity about them which makes them a bit special.

Crayon Rosary are one of the most inventive indie artists out there and are probably the biggest spenders at Toymaster but yet their material is relatively unheard of.  However, I’m sure it will only be a matter of time before we see the duo making a big impact on the indie scene.

 
 
 

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