Friday, January 06, 2006

Bound Stems / The Logic of Building the Body Plan / Flameshovel/ Rating 7.1

I reviewed this record for this site back on Dec. 8th but since Pitchfork just reviewed Bound Stems today, here it is again in all its glory.
Red = hot Mustard = warm Blue = leaves me cold

Flameshovel keeps on cranking out the hits: Narrator, Sybris, Voltage, Make Believe, and now Bound Stems whose new EP has managed to sneak on my favorites of 2005 list with their end of year EP release "The Logic of Building the Body Plan".

The frustrating part for me and I am sure for the label and their bands as well is that much of their roster remains off the greater indie music loving/buying public’s radar. While Pitchfork has been relatively kind to the label over the span of this year I haven’t seen a frenzy of coverage beyond them. Looking over soundscan numbers, PFM push or not, the records don’t seem to selling as well as they deserve to be. ( maybe now that a pitchfork review is in this will change)

Layered lush passionate pop wasn’t invented by Canada, this is not a water into wine phenomena and I am sick of it being reported as such. You can take your Broken Social Scene idol worship and park it somewhere else.(like PFM) While you’re at it take the Stars with you too.

It may have taken Bound Stems three years to make this 7 song EP but it was worth the wait. Unlike BSS who are quickly becoming the wanking Grateful Dead of indie rock, Chicago based Bound Stems offer an equally dense version of sweeping boy/girl dynamics but do so in a gratefully more condensed / concentrated manner.

No bullshit just beauty.

The Stars on the other hand present melodic drama but they border on thespians gone rock, over acting the age-old male-female conversation. Sleepy tongued and casual Bound Stems perform each song as if the entire band is spooning in a cozy exchange of instruments and sentiments.
The playful soft volley between the voices and band on songs like “Crime & Follies, “Wake Up Ma and Pa are Gone”, and Risking Life and Limb for the Coupon” offers one of the most engaging audio tug of wars I have heard all year.

These are not never heard before combinations, guitars, bass, keyboards, drums, his’n hers vocals, and samples but when the chemistry between members is on target, this traditional rock formula transforms into something genuinely momentous and moving.

My only complaint is the two page lyric sheet / band & recording credit over a so-so collage is nearly impossible to read and the song titles on back cover are a bit of a typography don’t.

Luckily and most importantly the music more than makes up for it.