Think the Records crossed with Phoenix.
The pumpkin ale may be arriving on the beer shelves, but I hope it’s not too late to slip a great summer song into your music library. In “Analog or Digital,” pure power-pop adrenaline meets a nimble 21st-century sound palette—think the Records crossed with Phoenix—and all that’s missing are people still listening to their car radios with the windows open. Not to mention radio stations that would play this. But you get the idea.
This one hardly needs any annotation—it’s got a head-bopping one-note bass line, an infectious melody, is three minutes long, and is about listening to records (a subject that forms its own important splinter group in the kingdom of power pop). Bonus points for the chorus’s recurring lyric “It doesn’t matter if she’s analog or digital,” which seems instantly zeitgeist-y—a brilliant blend of the concrete and vague, simple to sing along with, while inviting more meaning than it actually offers.
Wildlife Control is a duo comprised of brothers Neil and Sumul Shah. They grew up in rural northeastern Pennsylvania and are now bicoastal, with Neil in Brooklyn, Sumul in San Francisco. Their web site bio, which seems purposefully nebulous, notes that the brothers “collaborate on everything,” while offering no specifics on, say, who does the lead vocals, or who else helped them out in recording their album (“an ensemble of close friends” is the best we get). “Analog or Digital” has been running around the internet since December, in advance of the band’s first album, which was just self-released at the end of July. No worries about the anonymous-looking file name here, this one checks out as free and legal. Thanks to Largehearted Boy for the original link.
Philadelphia’s Steve Goldberg has become the indie bard of summer nostalgia.
Philadelphia’s Steve Goldberg has become the indie bard of summer nostalgia. We first heard him here on Fingertips in September 2007, brooding sweetly and chamber-pop-ishly about summer’s end. He returned in 2010 for a bittersweet, horn-festooned ode to suburban living that was not specifically summer oriented but trafficked in a similar watching-your-life-go-by brand of pensiveness. He returns in full summer mode here in 2011 with “July,” which, despite its title, works as a soundtrack to August as well.
What begins like the Beach Boys gone twee, via Fountains of Wayne, develops a resilient core beneath its veneer of exuberant nostalgia. Despite its backward glancing—the verse in particular sports a perky, early-’60s complexion—the music seems very present, very real, thanks in no small part to Goldberg’s wholesome, somewhat nerdy (in a good way!) tenor, which complements the innocent imagery but likewise seems to comment on it. His ability to meet the music on its own terms is what makes this more than kitsch or pastiche. I like in particular how his seamless falsetto veers in the second half of each verse into the harmony line even though no one else is singing the melody. He’s kind of inviting us to sing along; and then the chorus, taking a turn towards the power pop, pretty much demands it. Do not by the way miss the grand, old-fashioned guitar solo (1:58)—a thoughtful, retro-y creation stretching out the length of an entire verse, articulated against an increasingly insistent string section (three violins, viola, and cello, for the record).
“July” is the first song to be ready and available from a five-song EP, entitled The Flood, that Goldberg is readying for release. He in fact requires a bit more capital to get the thing produced and distributed, and is in the middle of a fundraising effort towards that end, via IndieGoGo.