Sick of Bing Crosby, how about some experimental baroque pop for the holiday season. Portland’s own Parenthetical Girls have released a Christmas album. Most Christmas albums are generally wholesome and feature whichever band singing familiar Xmas music. Parenthetical Girls’ Christmas album is a lot more interesting than that, but you wouldn’t want to play it as background music at a family holiday gathering. Don’t be put off though there are a lot of Jingle Bells ringing throughout this album. You can really notice them in Last Christmas, pt II, which is an interestingly sung track that sounds like Brian Molko (Placebo) singing a Christmas carol, but it’s not. So, if the radio’s incessant playing of Jingle Bell Rock is pushing you into a homicidal rage but you still crave Yule Time music try Parenthetical Girls Christmas.
Some of the tracks devolve into a kind of free flowing melodic entity that never really goes anywhere but entrances the listener like a moth caught by the glow of a flame. The musical style of Bardo Pond leans heavily on a psychedelic rock influence. It seems that the band can’t get enough time to explore the musical interludes of some cuts from the album, such as the track Undone which spans a whopping 21 minutes. But these extended instrumental portions of the album that are stuffed with heavy droning guitars rattling out distorted riff after riff, lend to the album’s esoteric quality. The extended instrumental parts noticeable in this album might remind people of a relative newcomer to the psychedelic game, namely British Columbia’s Frog Eyes. They too do not shy away from the ever expanding sound. The music just keeps going, interrupted only for the briefest of moments by delicately laid out lyrics provided by Isobel Sollenberger. Bardo Pond’s new album might prove that eight and not seven is really a lucky number. This is definitely one album to check out.
The English band My Grey Horse has recently released their second EP entitled The Saltway. The five-piece band consists of three Butler brothers John, Peter and Oobah the rest of the group is made up by Tom Mott and Joe Nickln. Just like the band’s first self-titled the four tracks that populate EP The Salway do not disappoint. First things first, the album art for this EP is fantastic. The band doesn’t seem to shy away from its equestrian related name, popping a prominent grey horse on the EP’s cover. The image looks like it was pulled from the LSD induced hallucinations of marionette theatre worker.
The first cut is Johnny Edson and it starts off as something similar to Modest Mouse but evolves into something else altogether. This song really draws its energy from the drums and less from the vocals; it all ends though in a slow burn resolution. Track two, Smiles Free is more of a straightforward punk rock number, the vocals are suitably inaudible and all of the instruments rattle off in haze to a melody appropriate for fast driver’s ambiance. Tug of Warcraft and Waste of Air close out The Saltway in a strong way. Both tracks have more of a You’ll Never Learn feel, a track from the band’s previous effort.
So, how does this new EP stack up against My Grey Horse’s first one? The answer is, nicely. EPs are always a taste of what’s to come and The Saltway is hopefully just that.
Prediction: The cover of My Grey Horse’s first full length album will feature a giant top hat wearing grey horse working a troll marionette.