New Album Reviews: Venice is Sinking and The Fling

Venice is Sinking – Sand & Lines

Sand & Lines comes with a pretty heavy backstory: it was recorded live in Athen’s Georgia Theatre shortly before it burned to the ground. Those background details gain even more weight when you actually hear the album – the theater and its acoustics are embedded in its DNA. The record feels warm and alive, clearly the product of talented musicians playing and interacting with one another in a very organic way. It’s fairly astounding that an album recorded live with only two microphones has this sort of clarity. None of the instruments ever get lost or buried.

Musically, the band seems more sure of what they’re doing than they have in the past. Their cover of Galaxie 500’s “Tugboat” sums up their approach here pretty well. It has the pace and quietly pretty atmosphere of the original, but with a subtle twang. The drums and organ probably benefit the most from the live approach, with the latter in particular taking on an interesting character. It’s nearly an ambient hum at the beginning of “Lucky Lady,” and it sets the mood for other tracks like “Falls City” (my favorite song on the album). Elsewhere, covers of Dolly Parton and Waylon Jennings are nearly as effective as “Tugbooat,” but I almost wish they’d been dropped to make room for a couple of more originals. There the ones the make the album so replayable.

The Fling – When the Madhouses Appear

Long Beach, CA’s The Fling write songs that are built on a rootsy americana structure and fleshed out by a hazy, psychedelic bent. That means they sound somewhat like bands such as Dr. Dog and pre-Yankee Hotel Foxtrot Wilco, but The Fling commits to bigger walls-of-sound than either of those bands ever have or did. There are few times when their sound might as well be called twangy shoegaze. I like the aesthetic, and the album rolls out at an invitingly relaxed pace. In the words of Tony Wilson via Steve Coogan and Michael Winterbottom: it’s good music to chill out to.

It could have used a few more standout tracks, though. As much as I love the sound of this album, the tracks tend to bleed together in hindsight. Even after the fifth or sixth listen, I can’t recall from memory what “Nothing Makes Sense” or “Dry the Rain” sounds like. “Wanderingfoot” and “Out of My Head” deliver the hooks, and “Cold Comfort” is suitably epic, but they tend to be the exceptions. It’s not that the other tracks are bad; they could just use more distinction. It’s a promising debut, though, and it’s sure to get quite a few more spins while it’s still warm outside.  Check out the video below for a sample.

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