Issue July 15, 2008

Music Reviews

Ready in Seconds

Snow Monster!

(UNITED UNICORN)

<small wonder>

Miley Cyrus ain’t got nothin’ on Mabel, the 5-year-old lead singer of Louisville’s own Snow Monster! 

The indie/new wave/post-punk band’s second album, Ready in Seconds, features new original material written by Mabel herself. She touches on global issues and the importance of community efforts in “Handz R 4 Helping,” the challenges of suffering an identity crisis in “Now That I’m a Lemon,” and updates listeners with a recurring theme in “Snow Monster (Part 2).” The album includes instrumentation by Mabel’s dad, Dustin, as well as 6-year-old drummer Luke (who is also in the band Sea Monster, not to be confused) and even a visit from the ever-soothing voice of WFPK’s Laura Shine. 

The album is brilliant fun, with music mixed electronically with Mabel’s lyrics, each track creative and unique. It’s more than just cute, and I think we all kind of wish we were that cool when we were 5. If she keeps this up, there’s no doubt she’ll go platinum by second grade. —Jane Mattingly

Live at the Nachbar 

Jacob Duncan, John Goldsby, Jason Tiemann 

(BASS LION BLM)

<smoothie>

Soothing and surprising, this album delivers. True to jazz, just when the music begins to move in one direction, it quickly shifts in another that is equally pleasing.

The compositions are perfectly relaxing, but it’s no sleeper. Duncan’s alto sax gets it right every time. Goldsby’s bass is delightful, especially his solo in the final track, “It’s Alright To Dream,” and drummer Tiemann is the glue that holds the whole sound together. 

Perhaps the most alluring aspect of the album is that it was recorded at Germantown’s Nachbar, where the group has played Wednesdays for some time now. The live recording adds to the overall atmosphere here, capturing the improvisation that makes Wednesday nights at Nachbar so worth it. If you close your eyes, you can almost feel yourself sitting in the dimly lit club, sipping a microbrew and absorbing these sweet instrumentals. —Cassie Book

For The Touch

Jason Hasch

(SELF-RELEASED)

<misfire>

The first 30 seconds of Jason Hasch’s EP For The Touch is promising, but the promise turns sour soon after he begins to sing. 

The EP contains solid instrumentation throughout its six tracks, which alternate between a jazzy and soft rock beat. A good beat at the beginning, however, could not overpower Hasch’s voice. It does not fit the music and forces the listener to concentrate solely on its suspect quality rather than the lyrics, which aren’t bad. Perhaps a little cliché, but they show some potential.

“I Need to be Loved” reminds me of a 1970s love song, and I almost expect to hear Isaac Hayes’ voice instead of Hasch’s. If one of these tunes came on the radio, I would change the station. —Caitlin Bowling

Miami Ice

Icy Demons

(OBEY YOUR BRAIN)

<cerebral>

On the Icy Demons’ third album, the group continues down the experimental psych-pop path that began their journey nearly six years ago. Miami Ice exemplifies the spastic sounds of the band’s genre-bending style.

After a hazy jazz-fusion intro titled “Buffalo Bill,” the album shifts into gear with the title track, which starts with an abstract synth melody that blends into a pop jam about a fantastical trip to Miami. The unique psych-pop tendencies continue on “1850,” which gets awkward with the addition of some out-of-tune horns that end up being quite distracting. “Summer Samba” is a standout that combines a melodic samba groove with some heavy percussion and soothing Spanish vocals, the perfect jam for sitting on your porch drinking a margarita.

“Spywatchers” finds the Demons switching gears into more of a math rock groove with some jazz influences. “Crittin’ Down To Baba’s” closes out the album with a funky dance jam, where Blue Hawaii raps in detail about a trip to a restaurant called Baba’s in some tropical paradise. The track is excellent not only because of the bass-heavy rhythm (which sounds eerily similar to Hot Chip), but also because of the lyrics — Hawaii shown in vivid detail, hot sauce on fries, and so on.

There are a few missteps: “Centurion,” a spacey ode to New Wave, sounds out of place. —Aaron Frank

Sobering

Nick Peay

(DRY INK)

<damaged joy>

When you flip the disc to the back to take a quick glance at the track titles, you could easily conclude that Louisville’s Nick Peay has had some damn sad things happen to him.

But when you listen to each song, this earlier determination isn’t so easy to believe. Whereas his thoughts and words are abysmal, an absolute indication of the joylessness he holds within, the beauty in his voice and gentle delivery of each note are, in their own way, sheer, exquisite inspiration. We’ve all been there. Broken hearts heal in stages. Peay is in that stage where he drinks a lot and repeats his experience on his guitar, but in a melancholy, low-drama fashion. It’s pleasant, as much as heartbreak can be. 

He talks to an anonymous her in “I Won’t Fall In Love,” and assures that no matter what she does, he won’t fall in love, thinking he’s had enough. But the words It’s like I’m lost inside of a rain drop falling from your thoughts hangin’ round may be the ones that swept me off of my feet. Sing on, Mr. Peay. We’re here for you. —Michelle Manker

S/T EP

Sugar Spell it Out

(SCA)

<no dice>

The self-titled EP from Louisville rock outfit Sugar Spell It Out is not quite as sweet as the band’s name might suggest. 

“We Can’t All Do Big Arms” starts off with a nice acoustic rock groove, but as soon as Brian Leonard’s melodramatic vocals kick in, the song takes a turn for the worse and ends up like a generic Dashboard Confessional/Tegan & Sara hybrid.

The second track, “Today,” is a more interesting, upbeat, indie-pop jam. The catchy intro captures your attention immediately, but the core of the track is muddled with more melodramatic vocals and those ubiquitous few chords you hear in just about every modern emo song. The track doesn’t get any better toward the end as Leonard tries out his best Promise Ring impression, which ends up being a failure.

“Drive Fast, Take Chances” takes the tempo down a notch, but turns the emo vocals up even more than the previous two tracks, making this an anthem for cutters and guys with “unique” MySpace pictures and flat-ironed hair. 

Sugar Spell It Out was formed partly in response to what their press release calls a “stagnant music scene.” Many would disagree, and even if it were, Sugar Spell It Out doesn’t have what it takes to revive it on their own. —Aaron Frank