“Buddy” – Iran

Talk about retro—this one swings with a ’50s vibe, complete with doo-wop style backing vocals, a nostalgic bass line, and a simple piano vamp. At the same time, there is something unsettling in the air here. Aaron Aites’ plainspoken, unstylized voice is not, to begin with, what one expects in a musical environment typically peopled by smooth crooners. Even less expected are the guitarists Aites brings along with him, one of whom is Kyp Malone, who is better known as part of TV on the Radio.

At first we get a slashing chord or two, and a bit of reverb. Thirty seconds in, a new guitar sound enters and grows in strength–a buzzing, high-pitched line playing a slow series of extended, vibrating notes. No doubt there are two guitars doing this but the net effect is one voice, which grows increasingly louder and more insistent as the song unfolds. (The band, a trio, features two guitarists—Malone and Aaron Romanello—and Aites, a multi-instrumentalist.) The instrumental break (1:15) highlights the song’s developing juxtaposition: easy-going, old-fashioned sway meets tense guitar noise. The edgy, extended notes continue and intensify, and notice how the “oo-oo” backing vocals open out into something weirder and more diffuse along the way, becoming part of the background wash. By 2:20, Aites himself is getting louder, if only to be heard; at 2:30, the atmosphere explodes with wailing guitars and unidentifiable noise that reaches a peak ten or so seconds later and then, with disconcerting ease, withdraws, leaving the easy-going vibe intact. The screechy guitars, however, have the last word, taking longest of all to fade away.

Iran, the band, is not by the way named for the country, but for a character in the Philip K. Dick novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (the book which gave birth to the movie Blade Runner). The song “Buddy” was originally released on an EP late last year, and appears on the band’s new CD, Dissolver, released last week on Narnack Records.