Maitland, “Drop Down.” Echoey guitar and drum duo sound like birds calling to each other in the forest, except they use words and instruments. Too woodsy and wimpy for my taste.
Woollen Kits, “Susannah.” The chimey, off-key, Mersey-like sound once dismissed as “twee” still makes my heart race like few other genres. Tunes like this, I can happily play over and over for hours. Rocky with folk instruments and folklorish lyrics, it’s garage rock for the carriage trade.
Laura Gibson, “Down by the Riverside.” This benefit recording for the Deschutes River Consevancy has an accompanying video that just screams “Save Nature!” Gibson’s voice is 19th century Midwestern white gospel, whispery and accented yet bold in other ways. The instrumentation is purposely plodding, with bells and horns. An old-fashioned plea for peace and calm that, if it hits you at the right moment, is overwhelming in its beauty and sincerity. There's a sweet video that fits the nature-now mood neatly.
SPiN, The Scream Inside EP. Quite the dopey name for a band—it sounds as if they were sponsored by SPIN magazine—except that they sound as if they existed years before SPIN magazine was first published. “The Scream Inside” (song and EP as a whole) is a hyperconscious mélange of all things early-‘80s, from cheesy synth riffs to walls of guitar to anthem-rock harmony-shouts. It’s quickly tiring, but commendable in its way, and probably a gas to experience live. There’s a real familiarity here, which may explain why SPiN music has been snapped up for sound snippets on a slew of cable TV programs. A Christmas EP is due later this month; I hope they’ve studied their Slade and Wizzard.
Hilly Eye, “Amnesia.” One of two bands fronted by Amy Klein, formerly of Titus Andronicus, Hilly Eye has been compared to the Pixies but really sounds like a different Boston band to which the early Pixies were sometimes compared: Salem 66. There’s that same dreamy, take-your-time, high-pitched yet not whiny female vocal sound, the same tough guitars, the same throbbing beat and suspenseful instrumental breaks. There were only three Salem 66 albums, and they came out 30 years ago, and I have no idea if Amy Klein knows anything at all about that band. So this is a validation and a legacy and a wonderful timeless sound in and of itself. A full album is due in January and, if this song is any indication, it will melt souls.