The story of Forever Amber’s The Love Cycle is as charmingly curious as the album itself. The only thing people seem to agree on about the production of the album is that a British six-piece recorded it in 1966 and that only ninety-nine copies were pressed. Apparently, the limited release was the product of a tax scam, but again, the details are fuzzy. The album itself is all over the place, featuring a handful of lead singers and following a disjointed narrative about a couple falling in love, but a few of songs are very impressive. “Bits of Your Life, Bits of My Life” is one of the most delightful tracks I’ve encountered in a while. The simple, snare only, drum part provides the backbone for an even simpler vocal melody that is closely escorted by an organ and light guitar. The vocals stand somewhere between Colin Blunstone and Richie Furay, but without the preachy qualities that they occasionally present. What makes the song so powerful is how much you trust the lyrically understated love the song discusses. The song fits all of the longing joy of admiration into an almost perfect two and a half minute package.
Over the past decade, bands like the Black Lips, Nobunny and The Fresh & Onlys have open the floodgates for a number of psychedelic garage groups. A number of really groups, most notably FIDLAR (check out our interview with them HERE), have proven that the sloppier and more ambient and clustered, the better. Twin Steps, an Oakland four piece, takes this to a heightened level. Their usage of crinkled samples, disjointed harmonies, intertwining guitar parts and minimalist atmosphere provides a loose air perfectly embodies this sloppy rapture. Where they differ from the rest of this scene is in their song writing. While most groups took aesthetic cues from Phil Spector, Twin Steps seem deeply influenced by the descending soul-ridden melodies that were typical of songs he produced. The opener of “Serial Parade,” released this past April, Wave of My Emotion, is their strongest piece. The opening guitar line sets a danceable tempo, and the swung drums set a mellow tone. It’s a fun song by a band that seems to be pushing a genre that was on the verge of becoming hackneyed and lifeless in an exciting new direction.
On first listening, “Don’t Touch Me” is fundamentally reminiscent of Sleater-Kinney. From its snaking yet rhythmic guitars, to the vocals that are somehow both tribal and vulnerable without seeming insincere, it feels like something off of Dig Me Out. But DQU, short for Dairy Queen Empire, predate Sleater-Kinney by eight years and this song predates them by a few months. The song’s intro is surprisingly reminiscent, in a backwards way, of bands like Beach Fossils and Real Estate, but as the song builds and subsequently gets more aggressive, it develops a sort of unrestrained quality that doesn’t feel at all short of being meticulously planned out.
Red Drapes are an english group that are interesting. After looking at their myspace, it is clear that they are doing everything in their power to get their name out there, and they might be worth taking notice of. Reflection is one of the most produced tracks that The Islander has come across recently. It isn’t a negative quality, but something about that facet of the song required some getting over on my part. Once I got past that, the song turned into something totally enjoyable. The vocals are very sturdy, and stand up to the reverb filled baking jam very well. The Islander can’t help but be reminded of Interpol, but again this isn’t a bad thing at all. Red Drapes have a very fun sound, and hopefully more will be seen of them.