The art of the song gets lost in modern music’s race for the chorus, the ring-tone, the ad placement. Too often, the ditties (and real talk: they’re often nothing more than that) that fill 2011’s radio waves and hard drives fall apart when broken down to their component pieces. Play Ke$ha for me with a tambourine and acoustic guitar. I dare you.
(UPDATE: A quick YouTube search demonstrates it’s possible to do this, but at the expense of any kind of sanity or taste.)
Smoke Signals’ new self-titled, independently released album (FREE download – click the album art above) flies in the face of those kinds of songs and instead presents nine tracks broken down into the components that American music as we know it is made from. The result is a deeply Southern, gospel influenced record bursting with group chants, twangy guitars, and propulsive four-on-the-floor rhythms. I don’t wanna say the result is pure Americana – the melodies are catchier and more complex and the harmonies more layered than they would have been a hundred years ago, but no one’s arguing for purity here. It’s the outside influences that make this debut stand out: Elton John in opening piano strains of “House on the Water,” a little spacey Manchester Orchestra falsetto fugue in “Maybe,” and the sparse, broken doo-wop tribute that is “Lonely Hearts Interlude.”
If you just can’t spare the space on your iPod for the whole album (solution: ditch those Creed albums), the must listen highlight here is the stomp-your-feet-and-shout-your-goddamn-lungs-out “Searching” that’ll become the anthem of every socially-lubricated drinking establishment it’s performed for. Kinda like it does right here:
And if that doesn’t sell ya, the video for lead single “Black Holes” is a loose, doc-style piece that captures the recording process as it was: communal, raw and real.
By: Chris Cullari | Beat-Play Ambassador Los Angeles | @Chris_Cullari|Music Without Labels & Beat-Play, LLC