Now playing: Futureheads, Bottle Rockets, Camera Obscura Just downloaded a new batch of stuff from eMusic, including these three albums:
The Futureheads, News and Tributes Inspired by UK postpunk/electrofunk, resonant of early U2, mixing in a tad of grunge and garage, and conjuring up the memory of the Clash (but without the gravitas), the Futureheads (MySpace site) come from that Britpop blend that spawned Franz Ferdinand, Bloc Party and the like. All the elements are there: plaintive, affected vocals, angular guitars, a driving beat you could pogo to (if anyone pogos these days, that is). With this, their second album-length release, the Futureheads pay homage to a variety of influences: not only the Clash ("Skip to the End," especially) and U2 ("Worry About It Later" resonates with Boy-era chops), but also Kate Bush, the Cure, ABC and postpunk evocations that can't be named, only felt. In that sense, the "tributes" in the title is apt. (Oh, and there's a dose of electronica tossed in for good measure on the final track.) The Futureheads have crafted a CD full of interesting songs, with occasional twists and turns that catch the listener offguard. eMusic doesn't carry the Futureheads' self-titled first record, but does include three exclusive bonus tracks from News and Tributes.
Camera Obscura: Let's Get Out of This Country Another band from across the pond that's captured my ear: Camera Obscura (MySpace site), which hails from Scotland. (Don't worry, I'm not becoming a total anglophile. A good ol' American band is next on this list. But be patient. I'm not done here.) The band takes its name from the old-fashioned image-making device -- the pinhole camera. The same idea is at play here, I think, for Camera Obscura's third album-length release features plenty of old-fashioned folkish sound, mixed with all the pop trappings. Singer Tracyanne Campbell's lilting voice sounds wispy, and from somewhere in the recent past. She could pass for Leigh Nash, formerly of Sixpence None the Richer, but with just a bit more verve. With this release, the band may have finally shed the comparisons to fellow Scot pop band Belle & Sebastian. While plenty of similarities remain, Camera Obscura builds on other influences as well. Take a listen to "If Looks Could Kill" and "I Need All the Friends I Can Get," and tell me you don't hear Motown coming through. And then there's the lead track, "Lloyd, I'm Ready to Be Heartbroken," which owes as much to "Phantom of the Opera" and J.S. Bach's organ as it does Scotland twee and jangly guitars.
The Bottle Rockets, Zoysia Woohoo! Just in time for the Fourth of July (for you yankees, that's "fourth of JOO-ly, emphasis on the first syllable), it's the latest release from the Bottle Rockets. I first read about these guys in a newspaper article about Twangfest, held recently in St. Louis. I didn't get to go to the Loo to hear them perform, so I went to eMusic to check out what they had on this roots-rock band. Apparently, this group's been around for a while, and right under my nose. Says eMusic: "Festus, MO's Bottle Rockets ranked as one of the leading lights of the 1990s roots rock revival, thanks to a sound that bypassed the punk heritage proudly upheld by most of the band's contemporaries in favor of a redneck fusion of Southern boogie, country-folk, and crunching rock & roll." Pardon me while I turn my collar to cover my red neck, but I really like this band. Love the stories of their songs. They rank right alongside another fave roots rock band, Drive By Truckers, and I'm sure I'll still be cranked to this record well past the fourth of July (that's Joo-...well, you know how to say it by now).