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Friday, March 27, 2009

The Grand Archives - Grand Archives

Name: The Grand Archives
Album: Grand Archives
Year: 2008
Style: Jammy Indie-Folk Rock
Similar Bands: Beach Boys, New Pornographers, Shins, BC Camplight, Wilco, CSNY
"One-Word" Review: Cloud Nine Friendly Jams
Based Out Of: Seattle, Wa
Label: Sub Pop

Grand Archives - Cover, Back & Back of Sleeve

Grand Archives - Pg2-3 & Back of Sleeve

Grand Archives - Pg4-5 & CD
Grand Archives - Pg 6-7 & CD Tray
Grand Archives - Pg 8-9 & BackGrand Archives - Pg 10-15
Grand Archives (2008)
  1. Torn Blue Foam Couch 3:27
  2. Miniature Birds 3:33
  3. Swan Matches 4:17
  4. Index Moon 2:57
  5. George Kaminski 4:23
  6. A Setting Sun 3:43
  7. Breezy No Breezy (Instrumental) 1:59
  8. Sleepdriving 5:20
  9. Louis Riel 2:29
  10. The Crime Window 3:44
  11. Orange Juice 1:32
Album Rating (1-10): 8.0

Members & Other Bands:
Mat Brooke - Guitar, Harmonica, Vox (Carissa's Wierd, Band of Horses)
Curtis Hall - Drums, Percussion, Vox (The Jeunes)
Ron Lewis - Guitar, Piano/Organ, Vox (Mines, Joggers, Ghost Stories)
Jeff Montano - Bass, Vox (the New Mexicans)
Thomas Wright - Guitar
Ben Kersten - Producer
Greg Calbi - Mastering
Jackson Long - Asst Engineering
Nick DeWitt - Drum Tech.
Jason McGerr - Coconut Tech
Pat Sample - Asst Engineering
Justin Cronk - Equipt
Scott Blue - Equipt
Jenny Marsh - Equipt
Jeff Dana - Equipt
Marcus Lalario - Management
Jonathan Moore - Management
Lisa O'Hara - Booking
Whitney Etter - Photography
Lisa Jack - Band Collage
Jeff Kleinsmith - Design
Joel Cuplin - Sax
Vincent Labelle - Trombone
Jacob James - French Horn
Jason Parker - Trumpet, Flugelhorn
Jenn Ghetto - Vox (Carissa's Wierd)
Sarah Standord - Violin
Jay Kardong - Pedal Steel
Sera Cahoone - Vox (Carissa's Wierd)

Unknown-ness: I never heard of these guys. This was a free CD my friend sent to me, so I had no choice in getting this record. From the simple design of textures on the cover and back and liner notes, I get the feeling that the music will be sparse, perhaps country tinged as much as, say, Granddaddy is. It even comes off a little Americana, which helps with the alt-country guess. The sleeve around the CD is a nice, if excessive touch, but it gives it a high quality feel.

Album Review: “Torn Blue Foam Couch” begins the album with a slow piano and tambourine. The harmonized vocals immediately bring to mind an echoey Beach Boys number. The music picks up with barrel drums and repetitive guitar work. The light airy vocals harken back to 70’s lite/smooth rock production. It sounds a bit like a lightning seeds song, it is just so smooth. And the melody becomes increasingly energetic and happy as the song progresses. “Miniature Birds” starts off with a harmonica and Beatles style whistling melody, sounding like ‘Hey, Buffalo Bill.’ The song delightfully bounds along, like it’s on an artificial Zoloft high. It could fit into the better half of Wilco’s catalogue. The whistle melody is revisited, but it never really leaves. It is then taken and remixed with brass horns. “Swan Matches” brings the true nature of the music to the table with a meandering, slow trudging lite folk-pop song. I believe this to be the underlying influence of the songs, the faster poppier stuff were just sugar coated CSNY songs. I find this song, as well as this music (different from the first two songs) in general to be dull. “Index Moon” brings out the more alt-country aspect with a chiming guitar and echoey slightly drunk vocals. But there is a hint of A.C. Newman to the voice. This is still a slow treading song, just not as slow as the previous song, or the following song: “George Kaminski.” This one begins with a sleepy xylophone and harmonica. Dreamy vocals (a little like Michael Penn here) accompany the number, creating the feel of a lazy, down home, southern canoe paddle.

“A Setting Sun” gives quite the impression of its namesake, with slide guitar and a light truckin rhythm. The vocals are very familiar if you like all the indie & hipster bands. And they even sound a little like XTC’s Colin Moulding. There is an incredibly catchy break down in the song that is propelled by the vocal melody only. It really grows into a good song and it finishes with a fade out. “Breezy No Breezy” is a theatrical instrumental song, reminding me a bit of a Spoon song if they were conforming to a Mississippi town stereotype. It is lurking, and dark, all the while being keeping the sinisterism in check with an accordion. Sleepdriving” is another slow-motion dream sequenced folk-pop song. It perhaps has a little Elliot Smith in the vocals as well as that Grandaddy-Thrills-Earlimart (et al.) style as well. It trips along with strings, and creates a very comforting atmosphere. Now I’m reminded of Ben Folds’ song “Don’t Change Your Plans” with the way the vocals are layered over the building melody. “Louis Riel” starts off with a nice head bopping piano melody. It is as nice, non-threatening and polite as the rest of the album, but the piano, bass and drums make it a bit catchier. “The Crime Window” puts back on the fully produced rock face, with horns, guitars and a bit of fuzz. The vocals are a chanting conglomerate of voices that make the song very powerful, like an anthemic football (European) fight song written by Belle & Sebastian. “Orange Juice” ends the short CD with a piano and variety of unusual instruments creating a thigh-slap-a-long song. It is very minimal with ukulele (or mandolin perhaps)

Stand Out Track: Minature Birds

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