Man/Miracle – The Shape of Things
There is something terribly invigorating about finding out there is an awesome band in your backyard. Man/Miracle, based in Oakland, CA, will give any Bay Area resident (present company included) that lovin’ feeling. Their debut album, The Shape of Things, is a high-energy romp through familiar sounds. Remember the irreverent lyrics and global influences that blew you away the first time you listened to The Talking Heads? How about the forceful guitar, high hats, and thick-as-pudding bass that made all the guys jump into one another at your first basement punk show? Ever listen to The Cure so much, you convinced yourself only their New Wave angst could express how you truly felt inside? Those elements are all present and accounted for on the album. It has its indie rock moments that recall Vampire Weekend, but with a heavy dose of punk noise and a harder edge. What it lacks in complexity in parts, it more than makes up for in fun and weird wonderfulness.
Man/Miracle opens for Rogue Wave at Bottom of the Hill February 24, 2010 as part of the Noise Pop festival. (21+, 8pm.)
Sounds Like: The now tragically defunct Plastic Constellations out of MPLS, MN
Listen To: Hot Sprawl, Above the Salon
The Novel Ideas – The Sky is a Field!
The Novel Ideas are a band out of Newton, Mass. The Sky is a Field! is their first full-length, and is self-released (download or stream from their website). Its main focus is on vocals, a pleasant harmony of earnest, if slightly male crooning with delicate female support. They label themselves as a rock-folk outfit, which is, perhaps apt if not entirely helpful given the current slew of new releases claiming such a title. The horns, slide guitars, and violins are used sparingly, providing either drama or lightness at times which is lacking for most of the album. The lyrics clearly center around the feelings that only love (or lack thereof) can conjure, and often make the album feel more than a little emo. On “Julian Carax” the pleading vocals call to mind the misery of Dashboard Confessional. The following track “A Breath of Fresh Air,” is a more energetic, hopeful track with a rhythm you might even want to dance to. The album is good enough, and certainly without a clear misstep, but for the most part the problem with The Novel Ideas is that they just aren’t that novel.
Sounds Like: Dashboard meets Headlights
Listen To: Adrian Blues, A Breath of Fresh Air