Monday, May 26, 2008


Half Light, Sleep More, Take More Drugs, Do
Whatever We Want, Groove House Records [6/3/08]

Half Light plays dreamy rock. Good for dark bars, candlelit
basements, long drives; some enjoy making cookies.
-- From the band's MySpace Page

Seattle singer/guitarist Dayna Loeffler has logged
time with Voyager One and the Purrs, two of
the town's finer music purveyors, but she has her
own thing going on with Half Light. Not that it's
a world away from her other outfits. She's still
doing the space-rock thing and doing it well.

This nine-song debut presents a harmonious array of effer-
vescence, a blissed-out cross between vintage shoegaze and contemporary alt-country. Accordingly, the band cites Ride, Slowdive, the Cowboy Junkies, and Mazzy Star among their in-
fluences. Extra credit for Megan Bailey's artfully-designed, eco-friendly packaging using recycled stock and vegetable-based inks.

a'tris, Lensing, Offensive Tie Records [6/17/08]

Music and film are inherently intertwined. I frequently look to film
for inspiration and hope that my music has a bit of cinematic flair.
-- Mason Taylor

Berklee College of Music grad Mason Taylor (piano, vo-
cals) leads this Boston alt-rock quartet. Despite their Am-
erican pedigree, they're more closely aligned with the UK's
Coldplay, Snow Patrol, or Elbow. Like those acts, howev-
er, a'tris is just too polished and po-faced for my taste.

I've enjoyed a few Brit-pop tunes in my time, but Taylor's
catch-in-the-voice singing rubs me the wrong way. I'm all
for male sensitivity and vulnerability in pop music, but
when it's highlighted and underlined, I get antsy. A
perfect fit for commercial alternative radio.

Blackmarket, Blackmarket EP, No Office Records [6/24/08]

This Lake Havisu band isn't bad, but I've heard it all before:
more modern-rock radio fare. Their high-profile production
team includes Sean Slade (Radiohead, Dinosaur Jr., Hole) and Matthew Ellard (Morphine, Weezer, Elliot Smith), indicating they're either deep-pocketed or well connected. Either way, Blackmarket isn't distinctive enough. Not yet, at any rate.

Dearestazazel, Be Mine, One Eleven Records [7/8/08]

She sells sex by the seashore / every night with someone new.
-- Dearestazazel, "She Sells Sex by the Seashore"

This Atlanta foursome could be related to Washington DC's Juniper Lane, about whom I wrote earlier this year, "This stuff
is as slick as it is familiar." Dearestazazel are new wave re-
vivalists who think big: big drums, big synths, big guitars, and what sounds like big hair (bass tends to get lost in this musical genre). Apparently, Pat Benatar and Berlin are back in style.

It's all very 1980s and not in an ironic way, which may come as good news for some, but since I can't look back at the MTV era without irony, Be Mine feels like an extraneous flashback.

Teenage Head with Marky Ramone, Sonic Unyon [6/10/08]

On this collection of covers and re-recorded tracks, these first-
generation Hamilton, Ontario punks come on like a more burly
version of the Ramones. "Top Down," the first track, even con-
jures up the unruly ghost of "Chinese Rocks," that infamous col-
laboration between Dee Dee Ramone and Johnny Thunders.

That said, Frankie Venom doesn't sing—or even try to sing—
like Joey Ramone. I suppose no one can. Instead, he has more
of a rock or power-pop-oriented voice; more like BÖC's Eric
Bloom than D.O.A.'s Joey Shithead. No surprises here, but
Teenage Head deliver a fun ride into punk's past.

Endnote: With support from the Purrs and other locals, Half
Light celebrates the release of their new record at Seattle's Comet
Tavern (922 E Pike St.) on 6/6. For more information, please click
here or here, from whence the image at the top originates (taken
by Paul Gibson at the Comet). For Tablet, I once wrote that the
Purrs, with which Loeffler continues to collaborate, "Sound like
Love fronted by Steve Wynn from the Dream Syndicate."

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