This Week’s Finds: May 14-20 (Sam Roberts Band, Juana Molina, Avocadoclub)

“The Gate” – Sam Roberts Band

There’s something expansively old-fashioned about the Sam Roberts Band—five scruffy Canadian guys with long hair and any number of beards, they seem to be doing rock’n’roll like it used to be done (this is not a jam band, thank you very much), without sounding quite exactly like any classic rock outfit you can put your finger on. “The Gate” opens slowly, building from an organ sustain, a psychedelic bass line, and a glistening guitar that approaches steadily with spidery noodlings. Around 1:10 it bangs into place, driving forward with a late-’60s/early’-70s vibe; Roberts himself has something of David Gilmour’s haunting vocal depth, lending a Floyd-like oomph to the semi-Steve Miller-y proceedings (listen especially to the vocals in the quiet bridge section that starts at around 3:12). “The Gate” is the lead track from the band’s new CD, Chemical City, being released in the U.S. this week under the Secret Brain/Fontana imprint, which I can’t figure out at all. The MP3 is available via Filter Magazine.

“Malherido” – Juana Molina

The wondrously subtle, subtly magical Molina was one of the very first artists featured on Fingertips back in 2003; arrival of new music from this acclaimed Argentinian is big news here. I think you have to slow down a bit to sink into her soundscapes; throw too many things in the multi-task pile while you’re listening and the song—all rubbery synths, skittery boops, whispery vocals, and stray animal noises—might not register at all. The breathy but sturdy character in her voice is one hand-hold into her world: she sounds rather scarily like two of my top five all-time female singers put together (that’d be Jane Siberry and Kirsty MacColl), and there’s a whole lot in the musical if not vocal vibe that reminds me of another (Björk). “Malherido” is a song from Molina’s upcoming CD, her third; it’s called Son (in Spanish: “They Are”) and will be released in early June on Domino Records. The MP3 comes via the Domino web site.

“Too Much Space To Walk Away” – Avocadoclub

As smooth, catchy, and vaguely disaffected as an old Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark single. This has all the earmarks of a great floaty synth-pop hit but the really cool thing is they’re not really using a heck of a lot of synthesizers; the acoustic guitars are actually more prominent. Most of the effect, I think, is coming from the layered majesty of Bendrik Muhs’ vocals, and the use of a New Order-style lower-register lead guitar line. Muhs has the ability to sound both pretty and weary, like Ben Gibbard doing a Lou Reed impression; his aching delivery of the sweeping chorus is big-time pop heaven. Avocadoclub is an English-language band from Berlin; there appear to be two guys at the heart of it, but they’ve fleshed out into a five-piece band for the debut CD. “Too Much Space to Walk Away” was the title track on the band’s second EP, released in 2002; it has shown up as well on the debut full-length, entitled Everybody’s Wrong, which was released in March on Firestation Records. Thanks much, yet again, to Getecho for the lead.

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