Let’s Get Physical: Sarah / The Lake

4153855802-1Sarah by Brightly   (Melbourne, Australia)

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Brightly is perhaps the most appropriate name for the group that recorded this 7-inch: a bubbling two-song affair that practically shines out of your eyes, so intensely does it sparkle in your ear. The Melbourne-based indie pop group combine Postal Service tone with the kind of atmosphere you might expect from the patio of a nice big house on a cool evening.

‘Sarah’ is the more remarkably confrontational of the two songs collected here, but perhaps a little less interesting for its lack of evasiveness. The vocals on this track are modified with soft reservation, and jagged guitars occasionally swoop in to carve out a place for themselves into the mix of the song. There are some surprises on “Sarah” as far as little changes are concerned, but the real star here is the all-inclusive recording and Joshua Barber’s robust voice.

‘Doubt’ is a little wider and a little wilder than ‘Sarah’ and honestly a little more Australian sounding. A saxophone that can only be described as “smooth jazz” blusters in and out of the mix like a perfectly creamy topping. The bass on this release occasionally seems to be escaping from the mix, rattling around in your ears like it’s shaking the space open for the songs to sit in. Brightly make the kind of music that could sit just under the radar from top 40 hits, which could earn them a lot of scorn from both sides of the fence. Mainstream indie is not an easy genre to work in, but that doesn’t mean someone — like Brightly — can’t do it right.

get physical if…
Digital Ash In A Digital Urn is your favorite Bright Eyes album
-saxophone was the first word your eyes latched onto in this review
-you are truly bummed about having to miss the Firefly Music Festival
BONUS: comes on awesome see-through vinyl

just stream it if…
-you can listen to Rihanna and Swans but nothing in between
-you hate the Postal Service “on principle”
-you still have faith in the Brooklyn music scene

I’m going to call this…
“Backyard Party Indie Pop”


386145184-1Sharkmuffin by Sharkmuffin   (Brooklyn, New York)

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Sharkmuffin, I have been told, put on a pretty intense live show; they have also put out a pretty intense 7-inch. A-side ‘The Lake’ is structured around a cyclical building guitar riff, and the chorus is a worthwhile payoff. This song is full of screeching triumph and gut-punching grimey guitar sounds. They kind of remind me of an unhinged Weezer, and they’re certainly the kind of band Rivers Cuomo would have rocked out to.

‘Big’ is an ode to the jailed Russian rock group Pussy Riot. It ends with what could be described as an incredibly post-modern rendition of Van Halen’s ‘Eruption’ but what more conservatively might be called some good old fashioned noise, which bridges ‘Big’ into a secret track called ‘Straight Grease.’  This 7-inch is underproduced, which is probably just how Sharkmuffin wanted it; bass and guitar come in crystal clear with vocals that swoop around in an insane maleficence that approaches something like Siouxse and the Banshees.

The songs on this 7-inch are all very catchy and there’s enough going on at a higher level to keep serious listeners coming back for more. It’s hard to capture the energy of a live show on a record, and Sharkmuffin have smartly circumvented that obstacle by creating a record that sounds decidedly NOT live but whose garage-trapped claustrophobia gives it its own kind of rawness and immediacy.

get physical if…
-your favorite millennial guitar rock group is The Strokes
Blue Album > Pinkerton
-you like music that punches you in the face

just stream it if…
-your favorite “millennial guitar rock group” is Grizzly Bear
-you are frequently afraid of being punched in the face IRL
-you take some prisoners

I’m going to call this…
“Lower East Side Power Pop”



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