After three albums, it was time to make an EP under yet another variant of the band’s name. This is a fun release (which is interesting to say about a band who is typically quite serious). What made this “fun” is that many of the band members switched instruments for this recording. Violinist Sophie Trudeau plays bass guitar. Guitarist Ian Ilavsky, usually one of the band’s guitarists, plays drums.
Also when they finished recording, was complete, the EP was played on a boombox and re-recorded from that. I can’t tell that it was recorded in this way, so who knows if that made any difference.
There are four songs, “More Action! Less Tears!” is the first. It begins with Aimee shouting “Hello! Hello!” and then messing up and laughing. So she begins again, “The name of this song is More Action. The name of this song is Less Tears.” It sounds unlike anything that SMtZ have done so far. The guitar that opens it is distorted and plays a fairly conventional riff while the violins play a suitable melody over the top. The strings build and the songs oars.
“Microphones in the Trees” opens with a guitar melody that’s quickly joined by the same melody on upright bass. Efrim begins singing (his voice is distorted and echoed and sounds almost more like an instrument than a voice, although you can hear the lyrics: “microphones in the trees, cameras in the sky.” The choir starts singing along with him until about three minutes when a wash of noise over takes the song. This lasts for a few minutes and then fades, allowing the words to continue. About half way into the song a rather shambolic chorus sings “we are the flood.” The last two minutes or so are simply feedbacky noises wafting around.
“Pretty Little Lightning Paw”is the ten-minute title track. It opens with bass notes and chimed notes. The strings follow Efrim’s vocal lines (which sound ragged and quiet). And then after a minute or so new strings come in, slightly unsettling sounding. About three minutes in the 4 voice choir begins singing an alternate melody above Efrim’s repeated mantra. The song continues in this vein for pretty much the rest of the song, only modifying at the end where the sounds and feedback resemble birdsong.
“There’s a River in the Valley Made of Melting Snow” is 5 minutes long and is basically a solo song from Efrim. He plays guitar, sings and plays “toybox.” The melody is fairly simple and his voice sounds pretty good–not too shrill. It may be the most conventional song that SMtZ has recorded.
While this EP doesn’t deviate drastically from the band’s normal sound, it is fun to see them mix things up a bit. For this recording, the band was
- Thierry Amar – violin, bass guitar, vocals, pianohandle
- Ian Ilavsky – drums
- Efrim Menuck – guitar, piano, organ, vocals, feedback, toybox
- Jessica Moss – violin, vocals
- Sophie Trudeau – bass guitar
- [Beckie Foon is absent]
[READ: May 5, 2016] The Ninth Circle
Brendan and I went to college together. In fact, I knew Brendan from his submissions to both the newspaper and the literary magazine. He was a major talent back then (I still remember details from the story he submitted twenty some years ago) and continues to be one now. He works in comics and has written for Flash Gordon, his own book Scatterbrain and something that I can’t wait to find a copy of: Charlie Sheen: Vatican Assassin Warlock. Check out his output on Goodreads.
This is his first published novel, I believe. And I was hooked from the first chapter.
The story is about 16-year-old Dan. His family is a disaster–his brother is obsessively mean to him, his father is an alcoholic, his mother is probably sleeping with someone else, and neither parent gives him the time of day. For his 16th birthday they take him to the circus, even though he never said he wanted to go to the circus. His brother promises to get revenge for having to go to this lame spectacle.
Dan’s not even sure that he’s going to like it, but he winds up being mesmerized from the moment he walks in. The trickster tricks him, the freaks entice him (he finds the bearded lady especially enchanting) and the whole show is truly amazing. Later that night, while lying in bed thinking about his crappy life, Dan decides to take action. Continue Reading »