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Thursday, March 12, 2009

Grammar Debate - Cheetah Vs. Helicopter

Name: Grammar Debate
Album: Cheetah Vs. Helicopter
Year: 2007
Style: Indie-Rock
Similar Bands: Capitol Years, Elevator Parade, New Pornographers, Counting Crows, The Situation
"One-Word" Review: 90's Alt-Country Revival
Based Out Of: Philadelphia, Pa
Label: Surreal Soundworks
Cheetah Vs. Helicopter - Cover, CD, Tray
Cheetah Vs. Helicopter - Liner Notes, Back

Cheetah Vs. Helicopter (2007)
  1. Dr. Tiger 4:37
  2. Believe it Away 2:47
  3. Ghost of a Chance 3:35
  4. Love is in Love 4:05
  5. I Stab Myself to Sleep 4:18
  6. Spiders 3:08
  7. 7th and Girard 5:12
  8. Industry 4:14
  9. Circles 3:58
  10. Hymn 5:12
Album Rating (1-10): 6.0

Members & Other Bands:
Joseph Lekkas - Vox, Guitar
Alex Yaker - Keys, Vox, Bass, Recorded, Mixed
Carolynne McNeel - Keys, Guitar, Ciolin, Vox
Becker - Lead Guitar, Vox
Walt Epting - Drums, Vox
Brian Wilkinson - Bass
Matt Kelley - Recorded
Gordon Rice - Mastered
Matt Hanemann - Art & Design

Unknown-ness: Now I have heard of this band, but I never heard them. Being in Philly, and an avid concert goer, I’ve come across their name many times, in conjunction with many indie-rock local bands. Now, traveling to LA’s Ameoba records, it was there in their used dollar bin that I decided to take a chance (albeit, a well educated chance) on the band’s album. The cover is very literal, with helicopters and a cheetah gracing it, separated by a four-color rainbow. The canvas-brown color makes it seem antiqued for some reason. Since buying the record, I have seen them as an opening band, but the acoustics were so bad, I really don’t know what they sound like, but I’m sure it will be something like bouncy indie pop.

Album Review: “Dr. Tiger” begins the CD, with an echoey working man’s rock guitar and a held electronic note. A harmonized girl-guy vocal begins, the guy’s is nasally, and the girl’s is somewhat smooth. It is a bouncy pop song, played with John Mellencamp guitars. The end of the song is a bunch of do-do-do’s with whining guitars and rocked out drums. It stays on melody, but feels too much like late 90’s alterna-rock for its own good. “Believe it Away” has a grand thick start, and the harmonized vocals pick up with a very New Pornographers melody. The repetitive guitars and marching drum beat push the song along. The male vocals solo for a bit, sounding like Counting Crows a bit. Without missing barely a beat, “Ghost of a Chance” begins with a fun poppy three chord riff, and sing-song like vocals, the female harmonizing voice is mixed down behind a couple of lead male vox. The song chugs along, accompanied by a loud electric guitar, and the whiney, nasally vocals. The song is pretty simple, and is actually quite catchy. It even throws in a “Dude Looks Like A Lady” siren sounding guitar. The organ/keyboards highlight the melody the instance “Love is in Love” begins. The vocals sounds more like a sedated Michael Stipe mixed with a basic Neko Case. The simple structure of the song makes for a boring listen. Monotone in extremes and execution, the song trundles along, like a lot of 90’s alternative album filler, as the instrumental ending seems to last forever. But the song glides right into the next 70’s rock influenced song “I Stab Myself to Sleep.” It jangles and whines itself into existence, sounding a little like fellow-Philadelphians Dr. Dog, especially in the vocal harmonies. The organ limps through the hoops of a slight alt-country song. A drummer boy marching beat comes in to create an image of a colonial parade. The organ cycles through on a tired loop, and fades to end the song, sounding a bit like Saturday Looks Good to Me.

A drum stick click counts off the next song “Spiders.” It has violins and a square dancing beat, which makes it feel like another alt-country song. Continuing along on the country theme, “7th and Girard” has a slow drunken bar room piano and slinking melody. And I know a better comparison for his voice, but I can’t pin point it. It feels like a sad ballad with an expected silver lining. But it doesn’t sound like the intersection of 7th & Girard. It feels like the bridge to New Hope. “Industry” starts with an angular solo guitar. The drums begin, but don’t make it sound more punk; they turn it into a normal, stumbling, disjointed rock song. I think the vocals I was thinking about before was Bloc Party. They sound like Bloc Party, vocally. The song breaks down about 3 min in and relies on the guitar and drums to kick it back into groove. It has a sudden ending, and lullaby vocals introduce “Circles” until the crunching guitars come in. It is stripped down much more than the previous songs, relying on vocals, slight drums, and jangley guitar. And we’re back to Counting Crows style of music. There are short periods of Dino Jr. type loud guitars, but they come and go sporadically. It ends repeating about “my only memory of you” which echoes a sad message. “Hymn” is a quiet lullaby of repetitive guitars, and cruising organ, making for a sleepy atmosphere. The harmonized vocals add the slightly religious feel to the song. It feels like one of the Shout Out Louds light ballads. But after 2:45, the guitars pick up and it anthemically gives its best go for about 45 seconds. Then it quiets back down, saying goodbye to what seems like either a deceased close relative, or an out-grown relationship. But it just repeats into the ground.

Stand Out Track: Ghost of a Chance

City Paper article
Last FM
Philly Weekly article
PW's Angry Grammarian Cheetah...Review

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