Reviews: Living Rooms, Roman Photos, Knaves Grave

As I was catching up on local reviews, I decided to group these 3 together.  There’s a theme here:  all three of these releases can be downloaded for free via each artist’s Bandcamp page.  I’ve included links to those pages at the end of each review.  Check them out.

Living Rooms – House Kid

Any review of this band is going to end up name checking Animal Collective, and it’s not an unfair comparison. It shouldn’t be a defining one, though, because I for one really like this album, and I don’t give two shits about Animal Collective. I find Living Rooms less pretentious, more inviting. It’s probably because pop seems to be the focus here. Forward-thinking pop constructed by a band with an experimental bent, but pop nonetheless. They build unassuming dance tracks out of layers of samples that mostly stay in the 3-4 minute range, most of which would work great as stand alone singles (“So Swimming” and “Light Bright” in particular). There isn’t really anybody else like them in Atlanta, so give this album a try and catch them live sometime. Their next show is on 9/18 opening for Candy Claws at the Drunken Unicorn.  Get it here.

Roman Photos – Into the Night EP

Roman Photos frustrates the hell out of me. I want to like them so much more than I actually do. There are a lot of things that are appealing about this EP, but it ultimately feels like a rough draft of something better. They play cold, moody electronica with just a touch of post-punk that comes across as a bit flat. They’re capable of some interesting rhythms, but tracks like “Into the Night” and “Out of the Sun” set up their grooves and then go nowhere with them. The former is especially frustrating because it has a great first half that sounds like it’s building to something even better. Then it just plateaus. “Highway (Winter Mix)” is the best thing on here because it actually feels like the track has some sort of direction. The rest feel like ideas that have yet to be fully fleshed out.  It sounds good through headphones, though, and there’s enough potential to make it worth a listen.  Get it here.

Knaves Grave – Jake Ryan Maxi Single

This 7 track, 20-minute maxi-single is dominated by hooky tracks that sound like the Ramones filtered through a John Hughes soundtrack. It’s as uncomplicated and enjoyable as both of those reference points, even if the songs are all pretty similar (not even the Prince cover sounds noticeably different from the rest). That’s alright, though, because this release plays like a friendly getting-to-know-you set of songs and not some sort of grand statement. There’s a break in the middle for “Heartbreak #2,” a stretch of instrumental, romantic guitar-gloom that would be right at home on one of The Cure’s earlier, gothier efforts (think Faith or Seventeen Seconds). Then it’s back to punky new wave for a couple of tracks before ending with Ominous Castle’s solid remix of “Jake Ryan.” I’m looking forward to hearing more from this band.  Get it here.

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