Pair of breezy CD-rs here destined to be summer listening. One by Julian Lynch from Madison, Wisconsin and another by Universal Studios Florida from Seattle, WA.
Lynch’s work seems to usually consist of guitar and keyboards and the first track (they’re all untitled far as I can tell) gets things movin’ in that mode. The track lays out an amazing rhythmic arrangement without any percussion, save for shakers. He pushes the rhythmic capabilities of guitar and keyboards while pushing their melodic sensibilities as well. The track changes effortlessly, never moving too far from its humble beginning but still pulling generous amounts of tricks from its sleeve. A great piece. The second track glides in easily on smooth guitar strums and a beautiful theremin(-esque) melody. Lynch also adds some soft vocals which work pretty well smeared in with their surroundings. After the short interlude of the third track, comes the finest of the bunch. Everything I’ve talked about so far is really great but the fourth still manages to tower above them for me. There’s a long build up of synth and a faraway drum before a melodic arpeggio leads to glistening, lingering fields of synthesizer before a guitar wraps her all up. It reminds me of some of the best, most tasteful Vangelis stuff. Utterly gorgeous and transcends its electronic origins in creating pure organic, affecting sound. Numbers 5 and 6 have a 60’s revivalist vibe, the former going for psych-pop stuff and the latter with a blurry Beatles by way of Elliott Smith ballad. The next piece begins surprisingly ominously with a single, heavy note plodding away before cartoonish sound manipulation starts up sounding like a drunken E.T./R2D2 fuckfest. Definitely an odd left turn considering the surrounding songs. The eighth track is a winsome, lilting bit of boardwalk carnival pop. The finale is similar but live drumming and a buoyant guitar riff add a bit of oomph. The whole album has a really cool sound; Lynch takes scraps from a number of genres: pop, surf rock, loners-with-guitars, dreamy synth music etc. assembling something fresh and inviting.
So first things first, a brief (and probably unnecessary) disclaimer: the two guys in USF are good friends of mine though I assure you I will maintain my journalistic integrity. Besides I’m only just now getting around to reviewing this, their debut CDr, after the blog world has already discovered them, so I’m probably not that good of a friend anyway. The two guys in the band Jason and Kyle are more digitally-inclined than I am so their music features a fair amount of IDM influence or whatever it’s being called these days. I don’t usually go for stuff like that but damn if the melodies on this thing don’t get under my skin. On the opener “New Cub” the guys debut their blend of guitar/synth/vocal melodies and laptoppery. Despite the cuddly name, “New Cub” ends up being fairly rugged, chugging along relentlessly like that one Panda Bear record was apt to do. “An Elm Skeye” bustles along with a crunchy drum pattern and at certain points the piece gets flooded with lush guitar and synthesizer before a really beautiful bit of acoustic guitar before the track wraps up. The Dark Knight repping, “Harvey Dent” carries over the acoustic guitar while brittle noises rustle about eventually amounting to a drum pattern and a pretty and too brief sea of synthesizer near the end. My favorite is “Gorilla Munch” (which is Jason’s favorite cereal—isn’t it neat I can fill in all these auto-biographical bits of info?) which pulls together all the elements they’ve been working with the most sound construction anywhere on the album. There’s a heavy dose of Timbaland synth lines dropped in there too which is a surefire way to win me to your side. There’s just a lot of great melodies here flitting in and out causing you to replay the track again and again. There’s some BBC jungle field recordings in there too which legitimizes the title. The solo piano in “Space Heater Custody” sounds like something outta Eternal Sunshine for a while before winding synths take over. “Villains” is gentle and spacey with a faraway tinkling of the ivories which is intruded on by fragments of sharper sounds until those sounds ultimately usurp power. “Autobahn Periques” finishes things off, and as the name implies it’s the most straight ahead electro. The best aspect of this record is the way so many great melodies fly by you constantly, I can personally do without so much drum machinery but I can’t deny how catchy so much of this record is.
Born 2 Run is still available but has been released on tape on Wild Animal Kingdom and on CDr by Future Sounds. Universal Studios Florida is sold-out but USF just had a new album come out on tape by Animal Image Research and also on CD-r by Little Fury Things so check that out.