Being, Doing, and Passers-By [BDPB26]
10 February 2013
For the record, that's one of the most meaningless titles I've conceived yet. Because, once again, I've culled together two bands that really have no relation to each other. So, let's get right to it, shall we?
The Sinatra Test – experiments in electronic composition, spoken word, and nostalgia reconstruction. Featuring breezy accordions, classy pianos, and cool retro samples, The Sinatra Test’s Do Be Do creates a curious tango dance hall suspended in time. “Evil Genius Experiement 2”, for instance, is centered around what must be a cluster of lines from some Frankenstein movie (likely the original) and a very raw-sounding, albeit silly, chorus about someone’s evil plan (love the bit about the “jazz-punk band).
That’s a bit of an outlier, though. More typical is the groovy tango, “El Tango de Naranja”, which boasts slick stand-up bass, some sweet piano solos, and that funky accordion.
Original lyrics don’t happen often, but there are two spoken word tracks, the metropolitan pastiche “Gimmie That Hat Back” and the enigmatic “Zombie Sundae”, the latter of which contains a cornucopia of textures: thumping drums and sputtering snares, sporadic slide guitar, a artificially deep voice paired with soothing female backing vocals, and an understated sax solo wandering about…good lord, what a fascinating track. Go check that one out if you’re in doubt about giving this album a spin.
In short – and in my humble opinion, of course - The Sinatra Test is certainly among the little group of indie bands that have actually crafted a distinct, classy sound of their own, one which I can distinguish and say, “Oy! That’s very Sinatra Test-esque.” Dig it on their Bandcamp page, and/or buy the digital release for £4.99 (or $7.88 in American moolah).
Kam Kama – Woozy, angsty post-punk. Funny, though – you’ll see some rave reviews that liken this Indiana-based band to “Echo and the Bunnymen, the Cure, and Joy Division”, but methinks they’re a bit off the mark. Still, rather than the sedentary brooding inherent to some later post-punk bands, Kam Kama are bristling with energy; “Means”, the standout on their The Tiled House EP, rushes head-on with swirling guitars, a stampede of drumming, and vocalist Scott Ferguson’s anguished cries. “The Living”, which follows, surges forward even more ferociously in a fantastic maelstrom of sound.
Yes, the vocals really are refreshingly different – no Ian Curtis imitation here! And the thick bass sound often expected in post-punk isn’t normally present on The Tiled House, save for on “Shaky Convalescent”, where the bassline is featured prominently. No, the dual guitar attack shines through the most, exchanging liquid riffs between each other, especially towards the end of closer “San Miguel”.
As tight as Kam Kama’s sound is on The Tiled House, though, it’s even tighter on their latest single, “Passer-By/Joseph Stride”. The bass is beefier, the production is crisper, and the band has refined its headlong charge. The B-side is absolutely remarkable – it’s a slower piece than most, but probably the most sinister one to date.
Together, The Tiled House EP and the “Passer By” single cost just $5 as digital releases on Kam Kama’s Bandcamp page. If plastic’s your fancy, however, there’s also some lovely vinyl up for sale, including some limited white vinyl for The Tiled House. Oooh.