Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Sparklefest Preview: power pop and more

The last time I wrote about the annual local festival Sparklefest, it seemed to be showcasing a fairly coherent style of music, which (depite some protests) might as well be called power pop, in particular melodic garage rock kind of stuff. A quick glance at this year's lineup seems far less cohesive, at least among the groups that I'm familiar with. I think the best way to sum up the theme this year might be "GUITARS!" Three nights of guitars kick off Thursday night at the Pour House in Raleigh.

Here's a quick look at a few of the featured bands.

SNMNMNM: a quirky group whose sound owes more than a little to They Might Be Giants, especially in the nasally, slightly nerdy vocals, whimsical lyrical topics, and subsitution of a tuba for a bass guitar. Also, the accordian.
"Danielle" (from Exploderama 2005. Buy/download SNMNMNM stuff.)

Parklife: draws on a variety of tropes from classic, 80s, and 90s rock, including the expected-from-the name Blur. "San Jacinto" has some of the breadth of sound and amibition of mid-80s U2, which I mean as a compliment.This is a band that I keep meaning to dig into, but somehow keeps getting put on my back burner. I need to fix that. (Their main site has apparently been Haxx0r3d!)
"San Jacinto"

Tiger Thief: another band that's been on my radar lately -- they've been playing out a lot and in pretty good company. I haven't given them the attentive listen they deserve, but "Jet Set Girls" is an entertaing blast of unpolished energy.
"Jet Set Girls"

Bull City: yep, these guys again. Their EP is available to download in full, and it's good stuff that builds on the promise of the Balance.
"Hurricane Eleanor"

Stratocruiser: I've noted their crunchy, Cheap-Trick influenced rock before. They have a new album, Revolutions, which is more of the same -- in this case, that's good. No downloads from that, but you can hear a few tracks here.
"Copyshop Girl"

Shalini: Shalini Chatterji is the wife of famed producer/Let's Active founder Mitch Easter (who's also on the Sparklefest bill). The music has more of a hard-rock edge than that might lead you to expect, but it hits a nice Blake Babies kind of note. The bass player here is Velvet's Jane Francis, by the way.

That covers most of the bands that I have at least a nodding acquaintance with. Time permitting, I'll come back tomorrow and at least link some music from some of the others. (Though I must say, quite a few of these bands are not down with the MP3 sharing -- get with the program, people!)

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