Friday, February 26, 2010

Some Soaring Rocketboys

I'm going to work at throwing up some shorter posts to talk about the music that has been getting a good deal of play time around here in the last couple months. If I wait to try to write something longer, they will never appear. And this is a perfect example.

The Rocketboys are a band that I first heard thanks to the ever-giving Daytrotter (who continues to refuse to understand that paragraphs are important for readers). A five piece band out of Austin, Texas, their first full release, 20,000 Ghosts, is a beautifully constructed piece of folk-infused indie-rock that shows that these boys have been working together for some time.

Their sound and lyrics feel as if they were born out of a church experience with rich soaring choral harmonies and introspective wanderings that are filled (not surprisingly given the album title) with many spirits, floating memories, hopeful endings and a general sense of searching. Don't get me wrong, the songs are definitely rock pieces at their heart with some wonderful guitar playing and very tight drums and bass that drive the pieces. But fundamentally these are beautifully written and arranged acoustic pieces. You can see that here as they play the opening tune on the album--which is a great wall of layered sound and vocals--in an acoustic setting at the Paste studios. You almost feel like it is a Fleet Foxes set and that is saying something.

But the album is plugged-in acoustic. Everything is bigger, but not in a power-chord way, more like a church organ of searching guitars, wonderful piano/keyboard and voices.

They are going to have to figure out how they are going to move forward as this album is a little bit too much the same throughout (just a tad)--perhaps a bit more acoustic and some slower rather than mid-tempo pieces would help. I don't think going heavier and faster is in the cards or would be smart for these guys from listening to this album. That said, this is a wonderful album for folks who love well-constructed, layered songs (and don't mind turning it up a bit).

I must confess that I was listening to this a lot during the snowy, snowy winter we have had and it has a certain snow-dazed feel to it for me (despite the band being from Texas) and that may have colored my sense of it all (in a good way). It also has a couple qualities I love which is a great opening track (as you have already heard) and a slower, meditative final piece which then pulls back the theme from the opening track in a not heavy-handed way. Nice. Overall, these guys deserve more than regional attention as they make some beautiful music.

Here are two of my favorites from the album. The first up is the second track on the album which I think has wonderful lyrics and rhythm (and great drum work). The second shows how their vocals really shine on the slower pieces.

So enjoy, and then go download this album (not available on disc as far as I can tell).

Okay, that wasn't as short as I thought it was going to be, but that tells you something as well.

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