Big Troubles - Romantic Comedy & Sea Lions Everything You Ever Wanted to Know... (2011, Slumberland) - The reviews are in!
Retro as this little ol' blog may be, I'm still wont to inform ya'll of worthy new releases coming down the pike, and late this year Slumberland Records gave me all the motivation I needed with the arrival of Big Troubles and Sea Lions latest records.
For the handful of you who are acquainted with Big Troubles via 2010's incendiary debut, Worry, Romantic Comedy isn't quite a 180, but a relatively radical departure, considering the group (originally a duo, now a quartet) graduated from a four-track machine to Mitch Easter as production guru for their latest. While they were at it, they eschewed just about all of the distortion-saturated, effects-heavy electro rock of Worry favoring a demonstrably more lucid modus operandi lending way more breathing room to Alex Craig's and Ian Drennan's fully realized pop songs. Comedy exudes a breezy, nonchalant stride, and as for the general "aesthetic" of this disk is concerned, try Hawthorne by the way of Silver Lake. "Make It Worse" is strummy and sublime guitar pop indulgence (without an iota of guilt), "Time Bomb" amps up the ante a couple notches into Stoned and Dethroned-era J&MC terrain, while the would-be emphasis track, "Sad Girls" marries a relentless hook to semi-hushed vocals, yielding a special pizazz all it's own. In case you were wondering, the producer had a not-so-heavy hand in the construction of this ten-song set. In fact, you'd never guess Mitch was even occupying the same room.
As for Oxnard, Cali's Sea Lions, they must have spent their collective lunch money and then some on scads of British imports, the kind with Creation and Postcard Records logos adorning the back sleeves. Lunging a very outstretched arm to the C86 days of yore (can you say Primal Scream circa Crystal Crescent?) they're also ostensibly enamored with one of their antecedent Slumblerland labelmates, Black Tambourine. Even more of a throwback to DIY Anglophile jangle pop than Pains of Being Pure at Heart were Close Lobsters protégés, Sea Lions are endowed with a retro-fitted sonic motif that's hard to come by in 2011, though I'm sure many of their contemporaries have attempted a similar feat with less than sterling results. I'm also picking up traces of Beat Happening, likely due in part to Adrian Pillado's pipes, which infrequently alternate in pitch, though I say that in the most flattering way possible. Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sea Lions But Were Afraid to Ask is a wisp of an LP, with the average song length dipping just shy of the two minute mark. Nonetheless, there's ample texture amidst these fifteen numbers, and the galloping rhythms and chiming leads taking up residence in "Rainfall" and "A Cloud" sound like a template for future Sea Lions bliss. This is nothing short of a major find.
For your vinyl and CD fix, head over to Slumberland's store, and if digital is your bag, iTunes should be able to accomodate you, as well as Emusic and Amazon.