This Week’s Finds: February 4-10 (Fulton Lights, Telograph, The Bird and The Bee)

“Thank God for the Evening News” – Fulton Lights

Satisfyingly moody and intriguingly entitled, “Thank God for the Evening News” unfolds with vivid style over an unhurried beat and minimal chord changes. Now then, I like chord changes and pretty much thought I required a good number of them in a song; and yet here’s one with maybe two chords in it and I’m quickly and continually engaged. Well. How can this be? Certainly the beat beguiles, combining an electronica-like ambiance–including the subtlest sort of clanky, scratchy noises and thin, smashy drums–with organic sounds, including in particular a nice assortment of strings, employed with great color as the song progresses. Could it be that Andrew Spencer Goldman, the driving force behind Fulton Lights, uses the texture of the beat in lieu of chord changes, as its own sort of structure and substance? It’s a theory. What he also has going for him is a wavery tenor, and a billowy melody for it to sing–moving and rising and sinking enough to distract you from the single-minded chord structure. The lyrics, at once dreamlike and caustic, add to the stylish desolation, like this recurrent series of lines: “I’ve seen blurry vision/I’ve seen slow explanations/I’ve seen false advertising/And wholesale degradation.” “Thank God for the Evening News” is a track off the debut Fulton Lights CD, self-titled, which is due out next month as a joint release on Goldman’s own Android Eats Records and Catbird Records, a label associated with the estimable blog The Catbirdseat. The MP3 is via the Fulton Lights site.

“Eye for an Eye” – Telograph

Here’s a band from Washington, D.C. with a song that sounds like an intriguing cross between, oh, maybe Echo and the Bunnymen and early R.E.M. Singer Andy Boliek definitely has something of Ian McCulloch’s deep-throated, romantic baritone, while the glistening guitar lines and soaring refrains bring you back to the early ’80s in a number of ineffable ways. Even so, I don’t hear this as simply a throwback or retread; there’s something crisp and present in the sound. I like the hunger conveyed by Boliek’s yearning, repeated return to the E-flat and D notes near the top of his range (for instance, as he sings “border” at 1:02), and love how the bittersweet atmosphere is enhanced by an extended melody that takes us, with a tender sort of briskness, through a lovely series of chords (no shortage of modulation this time!) that to my ears give the song both lift and depth–listen, for instance, from 1:24 to 1:54. “Eye for an Eye” is one of five songs on Telograph’s debut EP, Little Bits of Plastic, which the band released on January 1. The MP3 is via the band’s site.

“I’m a Broken Heart” – The Bird and the Bee

Awash in an echoey, vaguely ’60s-like aural landscape, “I’m a Broken Heart” reveals itself to be brand new at its core, a combination of electro-retro sounds that we’ve never quite heard before. Inara George sings the coy melodies with a beautiful airy tone, while keyboardist/producer Greg Kurskin surrounds her with a warm but quirky mix of jazzy sounds, the line between electronic and organic completely obscured. On their MySpace page, the duo describes their music as “a futuristic 1960’s American film set in Brazil.” While this inspired pronouncement doesn’t quite nail this particular song’s sound, an alternative self-description, “psychedelic Burt Bacharach,” is right on target: if you have doubts, check out the extended horn work, from 2:50 to 3:19, particularly the staccato-y melodrama starting at 3:06. That’s Burt on some sort of drug, all right. George by the way is daughter of legendary Little Feat leader Lowell George, who died back in 1979 when she was five; Jackson Browne is her godfather, and sang on her first solo CD, All Rise, which came out early in 2005. “I’m a Broken Heart” is from the debut CD for the Bird and the Bee, which was released, interestingly, on Blue Note Records (normally a jazz label). The MP3 is via the fine folks at betterPropaganda.

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