Short Takes on Four EPs

The Naked HeartsThese Knees EP

thenakedheartsthesekneesThe Brooklyn, NYC, indie-rock duo of Amy Cooper (guitar, vocals, songwriter), and Noah Wheeler (bass, drums, vocals, songwriter), formed in the recent past of January 2008, but their musical roots run deep in the lean, melodic, and relaxed, but rockin’ guitar, drums, and vocals sound they create.

This debut EP was recorded with producer and engineer Dan Long at the helm and has been available as a digital download since January 2009.  Before forming The Naked Hearts, Amy was in the band Rubies and also released two albums as a solo artist.  Before collaborating with Amy, Noah was part of the band Perry Went Home with his brother Ben.

Amy and Noah’s minor-tone vocals swap and twin dreamily on “Cat & Mouse”, gently drifting against a spare current of punchy drum beat, cymbal tap, and reverb guitar chords until the instrumental pace picks up with a rapid beat, crisply shaken cymbals, hollow bass riff, and energetic, angular guitar upheaval.  On the PJ Harvey-like tune “Call Me”, the shifting weight of the initial bass and guitar dissipates as Amy comes to the fore like Polly Jean Harvey, plaintive, sweet, and willowy, curving around the lyrics “You hand me a heart that’s broken / then tell me it is a token / of love.  Something better not spoken of.”  The unhurried chorus slides in with Amy singing in a higher, rueful register as Noah joins her on certain words amid low-end, circular bass runs, wiry guitar chords, and cymbal shake.

Bass, guitar, drum beat, and tapped cymbals are featured on the languid “No One Nothing” as a mellow Amy declares, along with intermittent, glazed backing vocals from Noah and a mirroring bass line, that “No one, nothing / can take us down.”  The song builds momentum near its end with rising guitar licks, drum hits, and constant cymbal frisson.  The Sonic Youth-like “One False Move” presses with a fast drum beat, crashing cymbals, driving guitar riffs, and jagged bass line as Amy urgently exclaims on the verses, coming on strong and unadorned, sounding like a vocally-powerful, but emotionally- tender, Polly Jean Harvey, contrasted against an unperturbed Noah speaking out the song title’s words.

Noah takes on lead vocals on the verses of “Crashing Horses”, going from a lighter tone to a deeper register, while accompanied by a flat-smacked beat and spare, picked guitar.  Then it’s Amy’s turn on the chorus parts as she wistfully sings, with Noah in tow, along a stream of fluid, pulsing guitars and rattling cymbals.  “Only For You” caps off the EP on a melancholic and longing note as Amy sings in a softly aching, despondent tone about “Young faces / changing places / looking for something new.”  as Noah’s chilled vocals shade Amy on the chorus against drums, a flurry of cymbals, ringing guitars, and hollowed-out bass grind.  There is a vocal and instrumental break in the song near its end where the sound fleetingly blossoms into a bittersweet reverie with Amy lilting through the lyrics against elevated, smooth guitar lines.
Evervess – s/t EP
Purr Factory


evervessThis 4-song, self-titled EP by San Diego, California-based Eric (guitar), Joe (guitar, vocals), John (drums), and Reed (bass) is an ear-pleasing, Cheshire cat grin-inducing, melodic blast of distorted and ringing guitars, dynamic drum work, deep bass lines, and cool, laid-back vocals in the vein of Swervedriver, The Church, and Ride.  The free and easy flow of the harmonizing vocals and catchy guitar playing also evoke the 1960s sound of bands like The Byrds and The Beatles.

 “Eating Our Dust” could be a long-lost Swerdriver track as it shakes, rattles, and rolls smoothly down the runway, leaving them all behind upon liftoff with spectacularly aero-powered, distorted guitar fireworks, clarion swoops of ringing guitars, and doubled vocals that recall Adam Franklin of Swervedriver minus the deep, sandpaper tone.  “High” trades in the sonic afterburn of the opener for the fast strum of Cocteau Twins-like chiming guitar, cymbal shimmer, and dual vocals that sound like Steve Kilbey and Marty Willson-Piper of The Church as they effortlessly and assuredly glide over the lines “…you realize you’re probably stuck where you are / and if there’s still nobody who’s waiting for you / what’s the point of getting up any more?”

 “Barrett” delves even deeper into The Church territory vocally, with Joe dispassionately intoning, one word after the other, “swerve…ride…taste…time…” against an agitated, wiry guitar scramble that echoes the sound of Echo and The Bunnymen.  The band tops it off with the engaging “Learning To Run”, as a galvanizing swirl of guitars, drums, and cymbal smash and shimmer whip up a bright sonic storm that contrasts against the contemplative, lullaby-like vocals, with the lyrics being a father’s ode to his son “I just want to see / you find who you are / and where you want to be…/ You’re everything to me.”  So sweet!
DreamtigerGlisten EP
Purr Factory

dreamtigerglistenepDreamtiger started out in 2005 in San Diego, California, far away temporally and geographically from the early 1990s heyday of the shoegazer sound of U.K. bands like Slowdive and Ride, but that distance has only brought them closer to capturing some of the softer side of the shoegazer style, with buried, hazy male and female vocals and dissipated, suspended-in-air guitar sonics.

James Meetze (guitars, vocals), Blake Jackson (guitars), Desiree Cooper (vocals, tambourine), Nate Soixante (bass), and Michael Cooper (drums) have crafted a debut EP that dabbles in and melds various music styles including shoegazer, dream-pop, and slowcore, calling to mind some of the output on 4AD and Creation Records.

“Heard Inside the Sun” palpably recreates the Just For A Day-era Slowdive sound with a slow, measured drum beat and airy, reverberating guitars that whirl out and chime blissfully on the chorus parts.  James sings in a subdued tone on the verses, drawing his words out pensively, while Desiree glides in on the chorus with a sweet, angelic tone.  “Waves and Tides” features watery, chiming Cocteau Twins-like guitar, that same steady beat, and vocal interchange between James and Desiree that recalls some of Secret Shine’s songs.  Burnished, distorted guitars kick in mid-way through the tune, shaking it out of its pleasant dreaminess and into a sharper, more aggressive entity. 

The up-tempo ditty “Blue June Sun” caters to dream-pop lovers, with an emphasis on the “pop” side, with kinetic, “skip-in-the-step” drumming, light cymbal crash, and short-phrase, sing-song lyrics traded between James and Desiree, contrasting with the bright, attenuated pull of shimmering guitars.  “Fragile Girl” goes for a more introspective sound with James and Desiree’s twinned, contemplative vocals backed by a slower beat, cymbal crash, and floating guitars.  The lyrics are less buried in the mix and reflect the somber nature of the tune as James and Desiree sing in hushed and despondent tones “She need some time to / reconstruct the world / inside her head.”  On closer “Rosalind” elongated, distorted guitar lines play against strummed acoustic guitar, a few bending piano notes, and James’s fuzzed-out vocals as he sings “There’s no space between us.”


Allison WeissAllison Weiss & The Way She Likes It EP

Happy Happy Birthday To Me Records

allisonweissYou can’t go wrong with an album cover that features a stack of pancakes!  Allison Weiss’s songs are like those pancakes, (s)lightly sweet, warm, (lyrically) yummy, and (emotionally) (ful)filling.  This 6-song, indie-pop EP finds Allison in full band mode, singing and playing down-to-earth tunes with no artifice or overt dramatics, just punchy drums, catchy guitars, astute lyrics, and personable vocal delivery. 

“I’m Ready” starts it all off with a jaunty, upbeat tempo of strummed guitar and kicky drums that recall “Ciao!” by Lush, followed by additional twangy guitar and Allison sing-talking in a clear, but plaintive tone, as she reveals her intent on the chorus with the line “Just tell me baby, / am I wasting my time?” amid light tinging notes and wordless backing vocals.  A sharp drum beat, tambourine shake, and guitar chords fill up “I Don’t Want to be Here”, until a faster pace of flowing piano notes, bass line, cymbal crash, and harmonizing male backing vocals round out the sound as Allison sings “I don’t want to see you / have the time of your life…/ without me.”

“The End” starts in the middle of the EP, sounding like a home recording, with strummed guitar and straight-forward vocals from Allison as she looks back on a relationship where “fact and fiction” were “one confusing blend”, but now she recalls the good parts and considers the guy her friend, but “I don’t mind / calling this the end.”  An added shining, rock guitar line gives “The Disappearing Act” a darker feel amid the upbeat tempo of drums and guitar, as Allison sings in a more serious tone, anxiously pushing out her vocals and exclaiming by the end of the song “I’m dying to know / where you go.”

“Daybreak” features low-key, hesitantly-strummed guitar and subdued vocals from Allison where, on certain words, she briefly lifts her voice up to a higher, wistful register as she sings “Slowly my doubts begin to surface. / Tell me all of this is worth it.”  Drums roll in, along with cymbal shimmer and a bittersweet, drawn out cello line.