October 9, 2013

Today's Hotness: Winter Wedding Party, Beach Volleyball

Winter Wedding Party

>> It's hard always being a noisy rocker. Even the most prickly believer must sometimes admit that, in place of a big sound bristling with feedback, autumnal acoustic introspection just does the trick in certain instances. In the best cases, one can even split the difference. Take for example the tremendous album cut "Lying In The Grass" from the international duo of Hallie Pritts and Jules Etienne, who operate an indie rock enterprise under the moniker Winter Wedding Party. The act is a sort-of side project whose two principals are based on opposing sides of the Atlantic -- Ms. Pritts in Pittsburgh, Mr. Etienne in Berlin. The pair's pending collection hardly seems to suffer from the great distance separating them; remarkably, Pritts and Etienne fleshed out the songs and recorded them in 10 days after a blur of a rendezvous in Berlin. Curiously (criminally?) tucked away at the end of the set is "Lying In The Grass," a ballad blessed with one of those endlessly sing-along-able, profoundly bittersweet, slow-burning choruses. Padded out with some sub-bass organ work in the intro, the song blossoms with acoustic chords in brief verses that spotlight Pritts' charming vocal -- always delicate and feminine without being coy or showing off. The first chorus hits, and then the band kind of keeps giving it to you for the rest of the song. The cascading melody and crestfallen sentiment will put a lump right in the back of your throat, every time. And Pitts sticks the knife in at the end, as well, softly intoning "...but I was wrong." The duo throw in some cool, KAOS Pad-evoking delay effects as a sort of solo -- tastefully applying a bit of noisy improvisation to gently skew the reverie. If Winter Wedding Party can get something this strong together in a mere 10 days, it makes one very interested to know what additional travel opportunities might yield in the pair's future. Winter Wedding Party's entire self-titled full-length is worth a listen, and it appears it will be officially released in some capacity by the label Chedda Yo! later this week. But you needn't wait to hear the record, which is already streaming at Soundcloud, or its key closing track, which we've embedded below. -- Edward Charlton

>> Beach Volleyball seems an odd choice of band name for a group of stormy, London-based shoegazers. Its songs are generally of the more downcast persuasion, but closer inspection establishes that the quartet's sunny moniker might make sense, even beyond any possible irony. In the wake of two fuzzy demo EPs a year ago, Beach Volleyball issued at the end of the summer a debut studio full-length called Broadcast. The set is available via Bandcamp for a meager two pounds and it's really, really good. What's most surprising is just how clear and purposeful the production of the songs is on the new recordings, in comparison to the demos. Older tunes like "Witches" and "(sharp stick)" are remarkably more realized -- transformed, really. The guitar tones sound surprisingly fresh and evocative in contrast to the muffled fuzz (not a bad thing!) of the demos. While the collection runs the gamut from droning, expansive dream-pop to breathless whammy-blasters, this reviewer prefers -- at least for now -- the more slowly-paced tunes. The best of these is "Swim/Drift," a beautifully bending number that neatly digests the essence of the band into three-and-a-half shimmering minutes. The twin guitars of Alex Smith and Adam O’Sullivan stage a clean, icy glide that is bathed in warm tape delay for an effect that echoes My Bloody Valentine's terrific "Blown A Wish." Here, however, the melodies and chords are a little less alien and more readily relateable. Smith's deep, cast-aside vocals hover just below the surface of the mix, and, taken in tandem with the tasteful two-chord drift, yield a resigned yet captivating pop song. Along with fervent dedication to craft, a final bliss-out section at the end really seals the deal. A closing melodic guitar line blurs the sense of sadness into one of pensive hope -– perhaps a bright and playful day at the beach doesn't sound so bad after all? Beach Volleyball perhaps benefits most from a confidence that eludes many of its contemporaries. And ace influences don't hurt, either. The cold, crystalline drones on display during the more mellow songs call to mind post-rock acts like Epic45, Belong, and the short-lived Sarah Records band Eternal -– all of which are certainly deserving of disciples. While Broadcast is presently only available digitally, some poking around on Facebook makes plain that perhaps some sort of physical release is in the works; there is also a promise of even newer new music perhaps by year's end, an exciting prospect give the crest Beach Volleyball seems to be riding right now. Anyway, stay tuned, as Broadcast begs to be heard on vinyl. For now, get your immediate fix via the Bandcamp embed below. -- Edward Charlton

No comments: