Orenda Fink means business. One-half of the the delicate Georgia duo Azure Ray, Fink, on a new solo CD, displays a striking new musical persona: tough, propulsive, and vibrant. This is indie rock at its most inclusive—revealing, in other words, a universal, accessible heart; and in so doing revealing that at the end of the day, the most salient labels are simply “good” or “not good.” “Bloodline” is very good indeed, a soaring, memorable shot of powerful pop, its chugging, fuzzy-bass-heavy verse and shimmering chorus together hinting at something both menacing and transcendent. Fink has a resilient, familiar voice, with none of the fragile breathiness of her Azure Ray partner Maria Taylor (not that there’s anything wrong with fragile breathiness, mind you!). When a song comes from seemingly nowhere and cuts to the quick like this, I am assured yet again of the universality of good music, despite the efforts of too many present-day indie rock zealots (be they fans, musicians, or critics) to protect their strange, isolated turf from perceived intrusions via over-thinking and under-listening. Someone like Ms. Fink can arrive and slap us to attention: when you have something to say, labels spontaneously combust. “Bloodline” can be found on her album Invisible Ones, released last month on Saddle Creek Records. MP3 via Better Propaganda.
“Hollywood Bowl” – Fleeing New York
Wacky, bashy, endearingly melodramatic Brit pop disguising itself as some sort of Motor City stompdown. This song has a bit of everything: smashingly crisp guitars, group chanting, rumbly pseudo-Western verses, boy-girl lead vocalists, and a truly loopy update on the old “wall of sound” idea, aided and abetted by some unhinged slide guitar work. For a trio, the Southampton-based Fleeing New York do create quite the sonic fuss. And then there’s the ’65 Beatles harmonics that kick in around 2:25, at once out of the blue and perfectly obvious. “Hollywood Bowl” is the latest single from the band, which has one mini-album to its name thus far.
The MP3 is available via the groovy British site Drowned in Sound.
Hey, kids—the robots are having a dance party in the anvil factory. Cool! Against a clanging beat, the London-based multi-instrumentalist Tom Vek has constructed a disarmingly catchy bit of post-post-punk pop, or some such thing. Adding delicious layers of texture to the Gang of Four-style metallic slashing that underscores the song, Vek wins me over most of all, rather unexpectedly, with his singing. He’s got a strong, dry voice, with a hint of a funky sort of roundedness to it; even as he takes us musically through some of the itchy anxiety-land settled in earlier days by David Byrne and Adrian Belew-era King Crimson, it sounds differently compelling with the 24-year-old Vek singing vague, husky lines such as “I know I’m wasting precious time” and “All these young men obssessed with death.” “I Ain’t Saying My Goodbyes” is a track off Vek’s debut full-length CD, We Have Sound, released in the U.K. this past spring and scheduled for a U.S. release on Startime International next month. Thanks once again to the fine fellows at 3hive for the lead. MP3 now via Better Propaganda.