This one morphs before your startled ears from a vaguely Middle Eastern sounding dance with an electro-beat and kitchen sink percussion into a vaguely Caribbean steel-drum-inflected shuffle with some African guitar thrown in for good measure. Too much pastiche for its own good? Or is “Harlem Sunrise,” rather, an audacious 21st-century stylistic mash-up? I vote for the latter. Nothing this warm and welcoming can be disparaged, in my book, nor something that manages, for all its sonic salmagundi and home-built vibe, to proceed with an air of the timeless about it. Even singer Tiffany Preston’s slightly pouty and distant voice, artfully reverbed and tweaked, works better here than it maybe should.
And I in any case am entirely in favor of major-key songs with minor-key introductions. That’s a nice songwriting trick you don’t hear much of in modern pop.
Rainbow Arabia–and the band name kind of immediately hints at what they’re up to–is a L.A.-based husband-wife duo (Tiffany sings and plays guitar; Danny does the keyboards and electronics). “Harlem Sunrise” is a song from their Kabukimono EP, which was released in July by Manimal Vinyl, also based in L.A. (Manimal Vinyl, by the way, is a name that does not hint at what they’re up to; the label does in fact release things on CD and digitally in addition to vinyl.) Thanks to Linda at Speed of Dark for the head’s up on this one. MP3 via RCRD LBL, and note that the link is not direct; just click “Download MP3” and it’s yours.
“She Loves Everybody” – Chester French
Up-to-date pop pastiche-ism from a Harvard-educated, L.A.-based twosome, underscored by an affable, Fountains of Wayne-like mixture of irony, pathos, and craft. “Well she craves affection/So I use protection” could be a line straight from the Adam and Chris songbook, while the music offers up an intriguing, FoW-like blend of the ’60s, ’80s, and ’00s, and maybe a few other decades besides.
From the start, this one’s a mutt: seven seconds of string quartet tension mashes into a disco-y echo of “Time of the Season,” with sleigh bells and surf guitar. The verses strip down to a beat-driven duo-friendly groove; a melodramatic piano appears, out of the blue, to usher us into a two-part chorus that is half laptop, half pounding ’80s album rock, with lyrics simultaneously goofy and meaningful. An offbeat instrumental interlude then brings us back to the original groove. In the middle of the musical parade, note the unintentional (by the narrator) intentional (by the songwriter) irony of the central, seemingly breezy lyrical conceit: “And I know she loves me/She loves everybody.”
“She Loves Everybody” is the title track to the duo’s debut EP, released digitally this week, and on CD next week, on Star Trak/Interscope. The song first made a splash last summer when it was featured on the HBO series Entourage. The band takes its name from the sculptor Daniel Chester French, who designed the statue of John Harvard in Harvard Yard, as well as the Lincoln statue in the Lincoln Memorial.