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Review Round Up #65

PlugInMusic.com's Review Round Up feature provides five quick-fire music reviews on a weekly basis. This edition includes Holmes' "Basement Tapes," Western States Motel's "Painted Birds Flying in the Orange Mirror Sun," "Made In Iceland," Twenty30's "Departure," and Night Artery's "Capsize Your Surroundings."

Basement Tapes

Holmes
“Basement Tapes”
(Groove Gravy Records 2008)

Holmes' music has been featured in numerous TV shows such as Without a Trace and Nip/Tuck. You would think that music acceptable for broad television audiences would be vanilla and boring, but Holmes injects enough quirky energy into his arrangements to keep things interesting. But quirkiness can easily lead to groan-worthy goofiness, a sin Holmes commits on "Go Computer," a song about - you guessed it - a crashing PC.

Sounds Like: A conflation of angular rhythms and bright pop/rock sensibilities

Key Tracks: "Prove Me Wrong Again," "Not a Political Song"

B
Painted Birds Flying in the Orange Mirror Sun

Western States Motel
“Painted Birds Flying in the Orange Mirror Sun”
(Firebird Field Recordings 2008)

It would be unwise to drive or operate heavy machinery while listening to this EP. The Western States Motel wield their acoustic guitar, basic drumming, and minor electronic touches like a bottle of Lunesta. It's not that these songs are poorly written or performed, but they're just incredibly uninteresting. This music is neither good enough nor terrible enough to stand out, but the world needs elevator music, right?

Sounds Like: Nondescript, acoustic-ish light rock

Key Tracks: "Stampede"

C+
buy it!
Made In Iceland

Various Artists
“Made In Iceland”
(Iceland Music Export 2008)

If this compilation is any indication, Icelanders love them some electronic music. There's a fair share of it here, from synth-pop to club beats. Equally represented is the kind of indie fare you'd likely hear closer to home. Sigur Rs makes an appearance (obviously), and Sign contribute a wonderfully out of place hard rock tune. As with any collection of this nature, the diversity means that not every song will appeal to every listener. But if you're interested in what's going down in the Icelandic music scene, look no further.

Sounds Like: A sampling of some of Iceland's most highly-touted acts

Key Tracks: Sigur Rs - "Inn mr syngur vitleysyngur," Sign - "The Hope"

B
Departure

Twenty30
“Departure”
(Self-Released 2008)

Twenty30 have the chops to make music that far exceeds the limit of what was recorded on this EP. They have a real knack for writing infectious guitar riffs backed by a classic rock sense of swagger. There's a variety in tempo and tone too, something many young rock bands can't to seem to grasp. The problem is the production, which is rather unkind; especially to the drums, which sound downright choked. It would be interesting to see what Twenty30 could do with a nice meaty production to compliment their catchy grooves.

Sounds Like: Low-fi, raucous rock

Key Tracks: "Choke," "Giving Everything"

B+
buy it!
Capsize Your Surroundings

Night Artery
“Capsize Your Surroundings”
(Cinematical Records 2008)

You never know what musical move Night Artery is going to bust out next. It might be some moody piano key-twanging, straightforward pop balladeering, angst-filled rock, or even Renaissance Faire-ish guitar plinking. But the eclectic smattering of influences doesn't detract from the EP's musical cohesion. Ambitious but unpretentious, grandiose in its vision yet honest in execution, "Capsize Your Surroundings" should appeal to anyone who appreciates unpredictable music with a foundation of genuine emotion.

Sounds Like: Quirky but heartfelt blend of styles

Key Tracks: "An Act Ill'Informed of Returns," "Nerve Endings"

A-
buy it!