Posts Tagged ‘scene point blank’

Frog at Scene Point Blank

Frog’s second LP Kind of Blah is one that swings from highs to lows, from poppy pep to slowed down sadness and it encompasses every other emotion within it’s short running time that any of us would know. Opener “All Dogs Go To Heaven” is a guitar led-piece that showcases the duo’s bittersweet indie pop and sets out their intent to lift you up before bringing you down. “Fucking” rides waves of preppy energy while “Wish Upon a Bar” takes the pace back down and incorporates echoing organs and a steady ramping up of layers of sound to give the song a boost towards its closing stages.

It’s a trick that flows sublimely through the bands second album – beautiful moments of despair contrast with otherwise perky garage rock progressions but underneath it all is the grime of New York, a feeling the members know all too well about their home city. Kind of Blah was apparently recorded in a disused bowling alley, and the lack of polish across the record serves this album perfectly. Not many albums could get away with the rough edges that pepper frog’s music, but Kind of Blah would suffer from being cleaned up, the quirks of the recording only add to the pain that slips through the undercurrent of the songs featured here. “Photograph” treads the realms of Antlers perhaps, with huge melodies that contradict the ache at the heart of the song, crushing any semblance of hope along the way.

Kind of Blah is an album that speaks to many, and it will speak to you if you give it a chance. There’s a honesty and humanity at its core and Frog pull shimmers of beauty through music that is sad, painful and desperately catchy.

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Eureka California at Scene Point Blank

When I hear the phrase “indie rock,” I think of about 4-5 things: Pavement, The Pixies, maybeWeezer, glasses, skinny guys, and bizarre instrumentation or time signatures. Some of that (queue the ‘90s references there) is due to my age, as the former part of that description is a bit more rock oriented than the latter. That former part of my name game associations is also apt for Eureka California, a band I know little about and picked up from my mailbox mostly because of the, er, eye catching cover art.

When I hear Eureka California, I hear the aforementioned genre gods, and a bit of Athens, GA in there too. It’s slacker rock that’s defined by caterwauled vocals and tongue-in-cheek witticisms. It’s far from “alt rock,” whatever any of these terms mean, in that it plays to a different set of people, a smaller room, and is generally a bit more learned. It’s built on guitar hooks and turning the volume dial up, evidenced well with the great intro chops to “This Ain’t No A-Side,” and the similarly repetitive and punchy “No Mas.” Both of those titles should also give the general vibe of the lyrical tone within.

The songs are driving and emphatic, less focused on time signatures and abstractions and more focused on the power of song. That is well exemplified in the very first song “Edith (One Day You’ll Live in a Bunker)” and second track “No Mas,” which uses familiar phrases from nursery rhymes, cultural references such as a flying Dutchman, and start/stop dynamics to keep the song more forward and powerful. While the “all the king’s horses/ and all the king’s men” line works here, it also treads dangerous ground that nears cliché. That summary is apt for Crunch as a whole. The band successfully straddles that familiarity line even on first listen, managing to sound just unique enough to stand out in the process. The lyrics are self-aware, sometimes glaringly so.

The songs where the guitars are pushed back in the mix works to their benefit, bringing the percussion more forward, as in “Sneaky Robby.” There’s less crunch to the song but more toe-tapping sway and less predictability. The same applies to “#1 in the State,” in which vocalist Jake Ward’s soft and wavery vocals convey vulnerability that builds into the more positive-vibed chords that carries most of the band’s sound.

Somewhat reminiscent of Jad Fair in style, the vocals can drain energy depending on the song’s tone. “Art Is Hard” sounds whiney and repetitive, in part because of the limitations of his delivery, which has a touch of the complainy already so, when the lyrics turn toward the more negative, it piles on fast. It’s a trick that works to stand out from the pack, but it also gets old a little fast. Enjoyment of Crunch is going to hand on how long you can handle the voice.

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