Got a pair of local bands here... well, 1/4 of Little Claw is based in Seattle so I’m claiming them.
Human Taste, released on T-Moore’s Ecstatic Peace! label, is quite possibly the best thing he’s ever put out. This is one hell of a record. Starting off with rapid acoustic guitar and shakers, the title track gallops along with heavily tremolo’d slide guitar and is reprised as the album's finale. Coming next is “Frankie” which is the best Little Claw song in history I'm pretty sure. I’ve played it countless times since getting this CD. It’s incredibly simple but unmistakably powerful. It’s mostly just two chords and 4/4 drumming with one slide guitar going haywire throughout. Despite how catchy it is, the jam is teeming with bad vibes and the refrain “There’s no way out” suits the fatalistic mood perfectly. Though, I personally have no problem with there being no way out. It’s not often a midtempo rock song feel so relentless. An amazing piece of work for sure. Smartly, Little Claw follows up that high point with another. “Frozen in the Future” makes use of a squirming violin and choppy guitar strums before busting wide open at the one minute mark. There’s a killer buzzsaw baritone guitar line that kicks in at the chorus that, along with the dual percussionists, really gives the track its groove. The song is wonderfully dynamic, navigating through various cacophonies only to ultimately emerge with the brilliant, hooky chorus. Next, the agitated, distorted vocals of “Modern Vampire” belie the jaunty rhythm section eventually leading to a gnarly, fuzzed out dual-guitar solo. The frosty “Lay to Waste” changes things up with a minimal drumbeat, two note guitar line and distant vocals. Kelvin Pittman shows up with a bit of mellow sax accompaniment at the end too. “Colors You Drown,” another great song, brings the energy back up with one of the more singular, straight up rock arrangements of the record. The track is all forward motion, clawing its way to the chorus each time. Another stand-out, “Slow Sticky Tornado,” is pretty fucking epic. It rolls to a start unassumingly with shakers and guitar laying the groundwork for the sonic anxiety to come. Dan Rizer plays tapes, Guild copicat and Roland chorus echo in the track which goes a long way to thicken up the sound, making the arrangement and Kilynn’s vocals seem even stormier. Those six and a half a minutes are followed by the two minute curiosity “Summerphile” which has some kind of keyboard loop, various spliced bits of feedback, grinding violin, a lurching percussion loop and Kilynn’s vocals holding it all together. It’s a strange, dreamy detour. “Breathing Tape,” at over 9 minutes, is probably even more epic that “Tornado.” It’s a lot more groovy, more of a jam than the determined ferocity of "Tornado." It sounds like everyone’s having a good time and Rizer and Pittman are back with their noisemakers too. The piece is built on a repeated low-end guitar lick and rattling percussion providing a perfect platform for everyone else to freak out. CD only track “Golden Boy” is another 9 minute song but it’s much more easygoing. It’s mostly acoustic guitar and vocals with guest organ by Matt Smith which fills out the track with glistening tones. Additional electric guitar and a bit of percussion crop up in the second half of the track to take it home. “Human Taste (Below the Tide)” closes out the record with another version of the title track. The first version had a vaguely rootsy vibe but this version is all rock ‘n roll. Everything sounds nice and crunchy as any good rock song should with some crisp snare drum action too.
If you haven’t heard this, definitely do so. It’s a great record, one of my favorites from last year (whoa, feels weird to say that…)
The Scraps CD-r is the first release from Seattle band Scraps (not to be confused with Seattle’s (ridiculous) Scraps Dog Bakery.) Opener “A Salty Sea” features a bass undertow befitting its name and a bombastic chorus with male and female voices doubling each other as is Scraps’ custom. “Shepherd to Sleep” is another great track which is basically a pop song at heart but Scraps stretches and contorts it into something a little darker with an unexpected structure. “Cuckoo Clock” moves along, halfway between a lope and a saunter, with some great lead guitarwork. Ultimately what emerges is an awesome swollen, seasick chorus. Rubbing away all the darker aspects of the previous tracks, “Mountain Problems” materializes as a pure pop gem and one of my most played songs from the last few months. It’s a breakout song for the organ which gets pushed right up front with the guitar, delivering the song’s incredibly catchy, swooning melody. There’s a phenomenal breakdown in the middle of the song which builds tension that totally pays off, making the final chorus seem even more astonishing than when you heard it before. It’s an impeccably conceived and executed pop song. After an almost lullaby-like intro, “Sofi” takes on a bit darker, denser vibe that ultimately leads to another great melody. The closer “Apollo” is another favorite of mine. It’s probably the most driving song on the record and it features another gorgeous organ melody. There are some rad surf rock chord progressions evoking Trompe le Monde a bit which is something I love to hear. There’s a really weird rhythmic bit in the middle that sounds like a steel drum buried under a hundred tons of reverb. Not sure what it is but it’s awesome. The song has lots of twists and turns and even when it revisits something from earlier in the track it’s always in a new way. The ability to construct rock songs in intricate and unpredictable ways is definitely one of the band’s most notable strengths. They also know how to write a charming melody.
Human Taste is available from Ecstatic Peace! on CD and the LP is on Not Not Fun. The Scraps CD-r is limited to 200 and is available from GGNZLA records (pronounced “gorgonzola”) and comes with cool blue whale screenprinted cover with a second design of a koala, owl and about a hundred other critters screenprinted in glow in the dark ink.