Sunday, July 23rd, 2006

Sunday Cleaning – Volume 42

Guster / Ganging Up On The Sun (Reprise)

Massachusettsians (is that a word?) Guster have built up a tidy national fanbase over the course of over ten years and five albums, but before this record I’d never heard them. Heard of, yes, heard, no. But now that I have, the fact that they’ve managed to achieve the success that they have is somewhat perplexing to me – they play catchy, shimmering, harmony-laden and acoustically-rooted pop music that’s not vacuous or over-produced. And to top it off, they’re on a major label and yet seem to be plugging along without a “hit” (or has there been one that I don’t know about?). So how on earth has this found an audience in the greater public consciousness? I have no idea, but it challenges everything I thought I knew about music while getting my head nodding. Sunny, fun stuff.

Video: Guster – “One Man Wrecking Machine” (MOV)
ECard: Guster – Ganging Up On The Sun
MySpace: Guster

Ill Lit / Tom Cruise (independent)

Though their MySpace page namechecks quite a diverse list of influences – Mobb Deep, Rimbaud, Randy Newman and Liszt all helped shape their creative muse – Los Angeles’ Ill Lit aren’t nearly as eclectic or horrific as that particular cocktail might suggest. Instead, they’re almost laser-focused on their blend of countryish tunes and squelchy electronic textures. Singer-songwriter Daniel Ahearn’s voice is pure and plaintive and the musical backing tasteful and restrained though overall the effort might be a little too polite. And no, I’ve no idea what’s with the album title. More MP3s and an interview at Cloak & Dagger – click through to Features and then D. Ahearn.

MP3: Ill Lit – “The Bridge In Tracy”

National Eye / Roomful Of Lions (Park The Van)

But if you’re looking for a technicolour pastiche of styles and sounds, look no further than Philadelphia’s National Eye. It’s got a folk heart but a psychedelic soul and is almost certainly unshaven and barefoot. There’s no shortage of sonic experimentation as befits a band as obviously enamoured with the recording process as National Eye, but the songs are solid and stand up no matter how they’re dressed up. Recommended for those who like a little more hippie in their Olivia Tremor Control.

MP3: National Eye – “Bird & Sword”
MP3: National Eye – “Lights”
Stream: National Eye – Roomful Of Lions
MySpace: National Eye

np – DeVotchKa / How It Ends

By : Frank Yang at 9:54 am
Category: Uncategorized
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  1. Matt says:

    Guster had a minor hit with "Amsterdam" off of their 2003 LP "Keep It Together". They’ve mostly been a big college radio band, the biggest for that scene was their album "Lost And Gone Forever", which was produced by Steve Lilliwhite of Dave Matthews Band fame. If "Ganging Up On The Sun" caught your fancy I would suggest checking out both of the LPs I mentioned above. I think you’ll enjoy them.

  2. Queen of Sheba says:

    *sigh* I’m still cross with Guster for abandoning their formerly very distinctive rhythmic and harmonic sound for a comparatively bland, radio-friendly sound. Watch me resist calling them sellouts. . .

  3. ken says:

    Guster is mainly known as a "college band," they’re really well known (or at least were when I was in college) on college campuses in the NE US. Part of a small breed of bands that become pretty popular among college kids w/out much publicity, other examples are Pat McGee, Dispatch and a few others, I always thought Guster was the best of the bunch. As the previous comment said, Guster made a pretty dramatic shift in their sound after signing with a major after their third album that turned off some fans, but certainly one of the better bands you’ll hear in the average frat house.

  4. solace says:

    i’ll second the Lost & Gone recommendation, one of my all time favorite albums by any band…

    new album is good, i’d still take Goldfly & KIT over it though.

    one of my favorite live bands to see live too, such a fun/funny bunch of guys.

    i agree their sound has changed a lot, sometimes not for the better for sure (the lack of bongos/hand percussion is dissapointing, but i understand the reasoning (Brian’s hands for one), but the comment about their sound changing after they signed to a major is misleading…

    Goldfly, their 2nd album, was released independently then picked up and put out by Hybrid/Sire, a major label. they put out Lost & Gone as well, which was definitely a much more polished & mature sounding record, as great as Goldfly was.

  5. Uncle Grambo says:

    Good to see someone else beating the drum for "Ganging", which IMHO is one of the year’s best.

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