January 23, 2015

Today's Hotness: Sister Palace, Twerps

Sister Palace - Count Yr Blessings

>> Few bands have enticed this reviewer in his hometown of Portland, Oregon as much as emergent, dreamy rock act Sister Palace. Comiing along in the wake of its mid-2014, sold out The Purple Tape EP is the act’s towering first full-length, Count Yr Blessings. The set will be self-released Feb. 1, at the conclusion of a West Coast tour that kicked off Friday night in San Francisco. The new set has taken much of the scene by surprise, as few local acts have as ably harnessed the sounds of well-aged '90s indie touchstones and channeled that inspiration into something as pristine and powerful as Count Yr Blessings’ lead single "Corporeality." The tune opens with a simple, picked refrain and the lead singer's straightforward, soft vocals. And then there's that thing -- you’ll hear it: a mighty, powerful wordless chorus that not only calls to mind the finer aspects of those Steve Albini-recorded Breeders records, but also packs a melody so honest and serene that listeners will be able to do nothing but listen and nod along in abject pleasure. Maybe it's the great harmony that haunts the passage, or maybe it's the clear, open production capturing Mac Pogue’s drumming, but there’s a timelessness to the tune that suggests great things for this young band’s future. Add to that a creeping harmonic bridge that recalls guitar-band greats like Helium, Come, and the aforementioned Breeders, and you have a recipe for success that also adds something special and original to the Northwestern DIY rock scene. We would be remiss if we did not report that the balance of Count Yr Blessings is equally strong, and that we expect listeners will be hitting repeat on the mesmerizing ballad "Sister Vincent" as well as the understatedly brilliant "Fuck The Nation," which brings back the effective, simple vocal harmonies of "Corporeality." Oh, there's also a surprise '90s alt.rock cover tagged to the end of the set, which is nicely done, and puts a twee spin on something you've heard a million times before. But we don't wanna say too much. Pre-order Count Yr Blessings right here, or grab one from Sister Palace at one of the stops on its present tour -- we’ve listed the remaining dates below along with the album embed, which we highly recommend to your attention. -- Edward Charlton

01/24 -- Santa Cruz, CA -- SubRosa w/ Burnt Palms
01/25 -- Santa Barbara, CA -- Funzone w/ Spring, Waxer
01/28 -- Los Angeles, CA -- Redwoods w/ Badlands
01/29 -- San Luis Obispo, CA -- TBA
01/30 -- Oakland, CA -- TBA w/ Watercolor Paintings
01/31 -- Cottage Grove, OR -- Axe & Fiddle
02/01 -- Portland, OR -- The Know w/ Lubec

>> It's no surprise, Merge Records having a winner on its hands, as that is sort of their "thing" (have you seen its spring release schedule?). But we feel like the forthcoming sophomore LP from Aussie indie pop act Twerps is getting a bit lost in the shuffle, and, well, it shouldn't, as it has all the makings of a classic album (and the band is already influencing a new wave of English outfits, to boot). The Melbourne-based foursome's new set is titled Range Anxiety; it was preceded by a self-titled debut in 2011 and the Merge-issued 2014 EP Underlay. Range Anxiety is replete with inexhaustible melodies, jangly guitars and a beguiling blend of pep and melancholy that recalls the finest work of notable antipodean acts such as The Go-Betweens. Indeed, Range Anxiety nearly comes across as a hits collection, its track listing is so strong. The uptempo strummer "Simple Feelings" recasts The Feelies' mellow and resigned "Only Life" as a jittery pop gem, while the preview track "I Don't Mind" plays it cool from within a quiet cloud of, uh, something? Is that feedback? Backwards masked ride cymbal? Whatever it is, it's nifty, and plays well against the chorus's clean jangle and the tremeloed leads in the verse. Deep album cut "Cheap Education" goes back to the Feelies well again for its firmly cycled three-chord verse, but thrums with a caffeinated intensity that points relentlessly forward. Merge will release Range Anxiety Tuesday, and you can purchase it right here. Stream the aforementioned "I Don't Mind" and the entirely charming weirdo "Shoulders" (which reminds us of a more hi-fi take on the Glo-worm sound) via the Soundcloud embeds below.

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