These guys are young. So young that two of 'em used to be in a high school pop punk I heard when I first moved to town five years ago. They were called Timothy's Weekend -- some real technical, emotionally wrought stuff. It was good enough, but Annuals is just such a treat, such a stunning departure. While the band can occasionally lapse into an annoyingly "progressive" bent -- like those whirly Patton vocal melodies soaring a bit too close to the sun on "Chase You Off" -- more often than not they stick to a familiar sort of quirky folk or world steez. "Complete or Complete," with its close harmonies and junk-box accoutrements, and “Mama,” with its enchanted banjo/sitar and hall-of-vocals approach, calls to mind a slightly less ambitious Animal Collective, still trying to write easy-pop. And when the slide guitar zips up all sluggish and slow in "Fair," and a billion horns sounds, all supported by that stately drum cadence, it's hard to admit these guys were playing predictable barre chord ditties just a few years ago.
Davis' own description is a "mix of melancholy rock and bright, textured pop," which pretty much nails if you're going for beautiful simplicity. With members of Engine Down, Milemarker, Denali, Zetamale, Des Ark, and Fin Fang Foom (Lovitt Records much?) helping him out on record, you couldn't expect much less. Sometimes Davis' songs call to mind his former bands Milemarker and Sleepytime Trio, but when he hits on all cylinders like on "Election Protection," Davis' work feels like that of a cranked Pinback with an even more sedated Elliot Smith on the mic. And now that I really look at his Myspace for the first time, I see that he lists both of those bands as an influence. Gee, wearin' 'em on his sleeve. Unfortunately, I can't locate a version of the song he sings with Des Ark singer Aimee Argote. But, really, that's the one to hear.
In all fairness, I've yet to see these guys play cause I was just introduced to them yesterday. But, hot damn, I like it. This is some straight-up indie rock of the not-too-sloppy variety. Forgive the comparison, but at times it calls to mind Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, with those wild, marble-mouthed vocals and straw-thin guitar parts. "An Ornamental Heart" plays like a windows screen saver with a repeating guitar figure that changes character vury vury slowly. It's all sort of claustrophobic, like a hallway that's about to cave in, until the subtle outro-bridge holds your hand and reassures you that everything'll be okay with a bit of amplified jangle. "A Savage Land" plods out of the gate on top of some Marquee Moon drums and then slaps you in the face with a wall of two slippery guitars -- reverbed all to hell. The off-kilter vocals make their return, dropping off the last bit of each word and, generally, shaking like crazy. But "Savage Land"'s selling point is the beautifully crunchy major-chord chorus: the part where the amps are oozing cautious optimism, and everything might just be ok.
These motherfuckers are from Venus and they shred. They spent some time on this year's Warped Tour, got picked up by the surprisingly whiskey-friendly Volcom Entertainment (yeah, the clothing company), and are now heading out on a fucking MAMMOTTHTHTHTHHHHHH tour. It's huge, just like those big slobberknocker riffs on "Man Behind the Curtain," which you can see a sorta disapointing performance-video for on their Myspace account. Thing is: there's plenty of boozy music like this around the Triangle, and unfortunately Thorr has caught some flack for their present situation. But really everyone else is just jealous cause they can't wail – drunk as hell – on top of bar tables right before they hang upside down from some stage-spanning scaffolding and spew "world domination" rhetoric, whilst sweating their fucking asses off. And finally getting PAID to do it.