Three Album Reviews – Alright The Captain, Cotillon, Tall Tall Trees (featuring Kishi Bashi)

Alright The Captain, Contact Fix

Alright-The-Captain-Live-780x516Right now I’m reading a book about Slint, one of the glorious 33 1/3 series. Scott Tenant’s book is great, a treatise on the roots of the mysterious, Louisville based post-rock innovators. So much of Derby based Alright The Captain’s newest, seven track release reminds me of Spiderland perhaps reflecting, more than anything, the power of suggestion when reviewing music.

While the largely instrumental tracks on Contact Fix are a slightly more traditional that that seminal record, they exhibit herky-jerky structures, fast and then slow, never dwelling in any place for a very long time. These guys are brimming ideas. Most impressionable is how they have eschewed all conventional lyrical production, laying random vocals low in the mix, in and out when they seem convenient. Throughout the album, I’m left with the impression that I’m walking in on (or out of) private, nuanced conversations. The frenetic “HBT” is my favorite song by a hair, vibrating with a manic, tempestuous energy, as though begging comfort from some nervous condition. But the tracks are less individualized. Rather, Contact Fix feels cohesive, one single fit of rage rather than a medly of mood.

Want to check out Alright The Captain? Their Bandcamp site says it all.

Cotillon, Cotillon

45-elgLos Angeles based singer/songwriter Jordan Corso hatched Cotillon as a bedroom project, based in concept on meditation on relationship challenges. The twelve track album opens up with a cascade of bright guitars on “Gloom” a nifty little piece of sunset California styled jangle pop and even moves on to inspire a little Bowie magic on “Call Me Up.” Then Cotillon turns down some, going all shoe-gazer on “Before” and “Yesterday’s Shoes” two really strong, moody tracks that pay off the tonal promise of interpersonal complications and evolving relationships.

The base idea that I constantly come back to with after listening to Cotillon a few times is that in touching sonically on a little bit of everything, it accomplishes less than if it were to remain focused. Is this a shoegaze record? Or is it meant to feel breezy? If Corso is looking to mimic the confusion of bonding human to human, he’s replicated that in the confusion on where to grab hold of his music. Overall, it’s a good enough album with a few sore thumbs, like the piano interlude “Left Bank” and some misguided Allman Brothers inspired guitars. Where Cotillon and Corso are strongest is on the drowsy, hard rocking side like “Lyman” and “Convenience” which feel like the essence distilled.

For more on Cotillon’s self-titled album, check out Burger Records site.

Tall Tall Trees, The Seasonal EP

Tall-Tall-Trees-Picture-Picture-608x608I will confess that my access point on this EP was the inclusion of Kishi Bashi, whose record 151a still illuminates the dank little space where my heart should reside.

Now forget who is featured on The Seasonal EP. The wide-eyed, bearded man behind the moniker Tall Tall Trees, Mike Savino is precisely what his site describes: neither your granddaddy’s banjo player nor is he another ordinary indie rock/pop hybrid. The opening of the four EP tracks, “How Did It Get Dark So Fast” features heavy percussion, providing dramatic backbone to a rollicking banjo. Everything adds up to an uncommon, impactful presentation. Savino’s voice is plaintive and dawns on heartbreakingly gorgeous in places, while still resonating with the core, rural values of his instrument. What makes Kishi Bashi remarkable is how he breathes new life, through loops and a myriad of digital effects, into his classically oriented instrument. We think of it differently. That change of perspective is alive on The Seasonal EP as well, “Picture Picture” built around dense layers that invite moments of deconstruction. Like his mentor, however, Savino is able to make his songs about more than a gimmick. They’re mature and lovely. You’ll want to gift them to someone you adore.

For more on The Seasonal EP go right to the source, the site for Tall Tall Trees.

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