Local CDs: Coleman and Static split time, show their chops on new EP
This week, we take a look at a handful of strong EPs from teamed-up garage bands and layered pop purveyors, as well as a pumped-up reissue from some instrumental rockers.
Followed by Static/John Wesley Coleman III
'Bacon Bear/Personality Pancake' split 12-inch
(Way Out There)
Followed by Static is an Austin-based garage rock band that smashes together noise rock and punk in an awesome marriage of sound. Last year's "Smiles/Bones" 7-inch still sounds great, especially "Smiles," which can hang with whatever indie rock songs are in vogue with the national music media. "Bacon Bear" adds to the argument that FBS is a local force to be reckoned with by demonstrating a greater versatility. Over the course of only four songs, the band spits out shades of Sabbath, '60s garage and R&B, and maybe even a tiny bit of honky tonk .
Coleman's side begins with a fight between abrasive and pleasant sounds, with vocal and instrumental distortion pressing against a happy rock 'n' roll rhythm. The two sides never quite reconcile, but they do find some common ground, easing up a bit as the song wraps up. If you've heard anything at all about Coleman, who is also a member of Austin garage rock band the Golden Boys, it's probably that he's insanely prolific, putting out a new record a week, or so it seems. "Personality Pancake" is a sort of fillet of his work, never demanding too much but offering choice cuts throughout, including the fuzzed-out guitar/drum solo combination that opens the title track.
The Clouds are Ghosts
The Clouds are Ghosts is a five-person electronic pop rock band that builds dark, multi-layered songs that escalate with surprising intensity. It's surprising because lyrically, this isn't run of the mill electro-pop. It's hard to tell whether opener "The Welcoming" is meant to be humorous, serious or both as lead vocalist Jason Morris sings, with a bit of a Conor Oberst crackle, "subliminal messages are coming through the television screen, I cannot hear them, but I know they're speaking to me/hidden in all of these subtle frequencies, letting me know that it's time to feed the beast, it is so hungry." That right there is over-the-top enough to make the album worth it, but the rest of the "Harbinger" EP, a follow-up to 2009's self-titled full-length, is a shot of similar intensity, with pulsing synthesizers coexisting with more rock-oriented pianos and guitars.
The Calm Blue Sea
'The Calm Blue Sea'
Modern Outsider Records
The Calm Blue Sea is an Austin rock band that specializes in mostly instrument epic rock tunes. Like that other Austin instrumental epic rock tune band, Explosions in the Sky, the band's music can be relentless in its tendency to weave together chorus after chorus and hinges on the tension between soft and the opposite of soft. On the reissue of Calm Blue Sea's self-titled 2008 EP (which comes with a couple extra tracks), the band's members differentiate themselves by settling in with a more organic guitar sound and a not-too-subtle love of Pink Floyd. The band is also adept at using a relatively conservative number of tools to create certain moods. On "Fire," one of the new tracks, a flood of vocals and other sounds devolve into a single picked guitar string, lulling the listener far enough into lala land that it's a shock when the band kicks back in like a slamming door. It's a soundtrack to a film — an intense film — that doesn't exist.