Wow! Three weeks in a row! What is this, 2011 or something?!
Speaking of 2011, this week we explore the supremely talented but inconsistent Canadian baroque rock/chamber pop outfit Hey Rosetta!, whom we first covered with their third full-length release, Seeds (NMT).
New Release: Second Sight
Release Date: Today in the United States (January 27, 2015) [released in Canada August 4, 2014]
Record Label: Sonic Records
Location: St. John's, Newfoundland
Sounds Like: Hey Marsailles (NMT); Ra Ra Riot (NMT); Vampire Weekend
Many baroque rock/chamber pop enthusiasts – including your blogger – were disappointed by Ra Ra Riot's recent shift away from the genre they helped define to a more synth/techno focus with 2013's Beta Love. Although Hey Rosetta! has actually been exploring more intricately-arranged compositions for longer than their Syracuse, N.Y., counterparts, Ra Ra Riot had generated a tad more critical and commercial interest – although perhaps only due to the former's relatively limited profile coming from Canada's easternmost reaches. Regardless, while we wait for Seattle's Hey Marseilles to follow-up their well-received sophomore effort, 2013's Lines We Trace, the Newfie crew has the stage to their selves. And they generally take advantage of the opportunity on Second Sight's dozen tracks of always nuanced and occasionally robust mix of folk, indie rock and baroque influences.
Come for: "Soft Offering (For the Oft-Suffering)" – clever title and the funkiest track on the record, drawing from that Paul Simon-Meets-The Police style that Vampire Weekend has employed to perfection
Stay for: "Kintsukuroi" – in my book, ranks only behind Seeds' title track as their finest work; brisk and agile, the chorus is infectious
You'll be surprised by: "Harriett" – who knew this group had a touch of old-school R&B in its bag of tricks?
Solid efforts: "Gold Teeth" – most reminiscent of the band's 2008 effort, Into Your Lungs..., but perhaps with a touch more rhythmic pep from bassist Josh Ward and drummer Phil Maloney; wish there was just a bit more instrumental flourish besides guitarist Adam Hogan's light but nimble figures; a groovy, sing-along closing refrain should get you bopping about; "Dream" – what a midtempo number should sound like; can easily close your eyes and hear the chorus in line with fun.'s Some Nights (NMT); "Promise" – the intro is a little too dreamy for my taste, but the thing stiffens up after 1:45 and features one of the frontman Tim Baker's more muscular choruses; "Kid Gloves" – Ward's fuzz bass here is unique for this band, centering the number as it sways from thumping verses to a more jangly chorus; "archers of pain" is a good line); "Neon Beyond" – a contender for the Surprised By section; after it hits its stride around the first chorus, it's one of the heaviest-hitting cuts in the band's catalog;
Meh: "What Arrows" – on the other hand, the bulk of this song is not what this group does well: it's slow and sleepy until the 4:19 mark - without any fun instrumentation - at which point it becomes something slightly more interesting as the beat picks up some; it's what you'd expect a boring Maroon 5 song would sound like; "Cathedral Bells" – I'm not much for Baker on his own, which he essentially is here; just not a lot of vigor, although he flirts with the melody of Spoon's hit, "The Underdog")
Skip to next track: "Alcatraz" – I get its intended to evoke isolation and loneliness; I'd rather be in Alcatraz, without this song; "Trish's Song" - likely a very well-intentioned bedside tribute to someone named Trish as she faces her death, but Baker's warbly self-harmonizing distracts from the beauty of the moment