This Week’s Finds: Nov. 14-20 (S, Rilo Kiley, Bloc Party)

“Falling” – S

Combining a crackling edginess with a wash of electronica mystery, “Falling” feels like how the Sundays would sound with a bit too much caffeine in their system. While neither the itchy-bass-line-driven verse on the one hand nor the more expansive, open-chorded not-quite-a-chorus chorus might stand out on their own, they work niftily against each other to create more sonic drama than often contained in a mere four minutes. The effect is augmented through some distinctive electronic stitches between sections. S is the internet-unfriendly name (Google it and you’ll get more than 1 billion results) that Seattle’s Jenn Ghetto has been recording under since the late ’90s; “Falling” can be found on her new CD, Puking and Crying, released in September on Suicide Squeeze Records. The MP3 is from the Suicide Squeeze web site.

“With Arms Outstretched” – Rilo Kiley

Far more charming than any relatively straightforward steel-guitar-laced strummer has a right to be. Whereas last week we heard the Geraldine Fibbers cross indie rock with country to explore some raw and prickly territory, this week note how Rilo Kiley mixes the same genres like they want to be your best friend, and, on top of that, they know that you want them to be too. To my ears, no small amount of Rilo Kiley’s appeal–beyond intelligent songwriting and smart production skills–lies in singer/guitarist Jenny Lewis’s disarmingly direct vocal style. What can I say? I do, I want her to be my best friend. At once familiar and fresh, “With Arms Outstretched” features a leisurely and timeless-seeming melody; when Lewis is joined about two minutes in by a chorus of ragged male voices (including Bright Eyes’ Conor Oberst), that does it. It’s all just too charming. The song comes from the band’s second CD, The Execution of All Things, which was released in 2001 on Saddle Creek Records; the MP3 is on the Saddle Creek site. Their third and most recent CD, More Adventurous, was recently released on Barsuk Records (go the band’s web site and you can hear it in its entirety).

“The Answer” – Bloc Party

Cross the Strokes with Joy Division, add a touch of the Jam for flavoring, and here you are. I’m not sure what they’re singing about, but you don’t have to know to know; the energy is exquisitely charged, the whole burbling thing about to blow. But wow: listen to the chords they take you through in the chorus, about a minute-twenty into the song, and the lyrics with which they take you there: “Grown in a parental fugue/Weight loss in self respect/Bomb, bomb, bomb us back together/A new way into a lost answer.” Like I said, I have no idea what they’re singing about. But my goodness they’re singing about something, aren’t they? I am encouraged to no end by a new generation of bands out there who seem to be moving intelligently into the future by being aware of the past, both musically and otherwise. Here’s what the band members themselves say, on their web site: “Suffice to say there would be no band without the efforts of guitar bands formed in British and American towns in the 70s, 80s and 90s, as well as visionary writers and artists of various kinds whose work has informed the world and culture itself as it stands.” “The Answer” comes from the band’s self-titled debut EP, released in September on Dim Mak Records. The MP3 can be found on the band’s web site.

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