This Week’s Finds: Aug. 28-Sept. 3 (Slow Dazzle, Engineers, Troubled Hubble)

“Fleur de Lis” – Slow Dazzle

Stylish, echoey guitar-laced synth pop with an interesting sort of urban-cowboy flair. Blessed by both atmosphere and motion, “Fleur de Lis” features a slinky melody and sneaky lyrics, delivered with weary-innocent panache by Shannon McArdle. I love how many distinct types of sounds this NYC trio blends into an organic whole: spacey synthesizers, lonesome-desert lead guitar lines, puffing keyboard accents, rattlesnake beats, and (best of all) a loopy sort of backwards-sounding guitar that steals the show at 1:37. Slow Dazzle features two-thirds of the songwriters in the neo-folk-rock-ish outfit the Mendoza Line (McArdle and Timothy Bracy); “Fleur de Lis” is the lead track from the CD The View From the Floor, released in June on Misra Records. The MP3 is available via the band’s site Misra.

“Come In Out of the Rain” – Engineers

Large and dreamy, “Come In Out of the Rain” is a shiny example of how much the so-called “shoegaze” sub-genre owes to a sub-genre that might otherwise seem at the opposite end of the sub-genre spectrum–namely, power pop. (Which only goes to show how insipid is the internet-propagated need to sub-genre-ize everything, but that’s another story.) But listen to the beautiful tangent the melody takes from 0:48 through 0:53, which I know in my gut is a power-pop sort of embellishment, even as I can’t possibly begin to explain why this is, and how it works within this spacious, grandly-textured sort of down-tempo anthem. I’m also hearing a good bit of early Tears For Fears here–partially because TFF doesn’t get enough credit for pioneering the accessible end of the shoegaze/dream-pop sound, and partially because Tears For Fears producer Dave Bascombe apparently had a hand in the mix on the Engineers self-titled debut CD, from which this comes. The CD was released in June on Echo Records; the MP3 is available through Insound.

“Ear Nose & Throat” – Troubled Hubble

A particularly crisp and tasty iteration of the time-honored tradition of rock songs with one-note verses, “Ear Nose & Throat” is, perhaps, the first of these to work the word “otolaryngology” into the torrent of words usually unleashed in such circumstances. I especially like the combination of snare-free drumming and metallic guitars, which creates a satisfyingly crunchy-rhythmic environment for the medically-oriented lyrical overflow. One of the cool things about this sort of song, when done well, is how the lyrics flow past impressionistically, telling not a linear story but still achieving a certain sort of wholeness. Troubled Hubble is a quartet from outside Chicago with six self-released CDs (three full-lengths, three EPs) to their name before Making Beds in a Burning House was released in May on Lookout Records (and apparently on Eenie Meenie Records too, somehow; sometimes–often–the indie-rock scene is too complicated for its own good). The MP3 is available via the band’s site. Thanks to BLCKYLLWBLCK for the lead.

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