Reviews: Candy Claws, TV Torso

Candy Claws – Hidden Lands

Hidden Lands opens with it’s murkiest moment, the nearly 7 minute “In the Deep Time.” The track is a bunch of goggy ambience that rarely resembles anything like a song, but it’s an excellent album opener in the sense that it isolates the most notable aspects of the band’s aesthetic and pushes them front and center. It’s all in there: the barely-there vocals, the bubbling keyboards, the notable lack of low end. It’s a gorgeous, carefully constructed mess that acts as a perfect overture.

The rest of the songs are more immediate, but ethereal is the key word throughout. These are ambient pop songs that sound like they’re always on the verge of floating away. There are occasional details that bring the songs back to earth, like the recurring, interrupting guitar part on “Sun Arrow.” But mostly the songs flow gently by, each individual element blending together into an inseparable whole. It’s the sound of watercolors bleeding together.

Candy Claws plays Atlanta this Saturday, September 18, at the Drunken Unicorn.

TV Torso – Status Quo Vadis

TV Torso caught my ear as the odd men out at The Goat Farm festival a few weeks ago, where they were the only non-Atlanta band on the bill. Their performance was good enough to get me to investigate further, but I honestly wasn’t expecting to like this album (EP?) as much as I do.

They sound like fellow Austin band Spoon, but not in a derivative way. Frontman Matt Oliver has a cool, collected rasp that’s unavoidably similar to Britt Daniel’s, and the band’s got a knack for kind of the taut guitar/drums-centric indie rock that Spoon’s been dealing in since Girls Can Tell. They’ve also got Spoon’s talent for making straightforward tunes a bit more interesting in the studio.

These are basic rock songs, but they run longer than they might in other hands, with more unexpected details.  The first few minutes of “Slander’s Stew” follow a familiar indie rock blueprint, but then the track keeps going for a few more, adding layers of guitars and burying the vocals.  It sounds like it’s accelerating out of control and the bedrock of the song is deteriorating.  Elsewhere, “Elegy” pairs bagpipes with a guitar tone that makes it occasionally difficult to tell which instrument is which.

“Slanderer’s Stew” is available as a free download from TV Torso’s Bandcamp page.  You can buy the rest of the album there, too.

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