Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Loyal Divide's "Labrador EP" Demands to Be Listened To

On the band's MySpace page, the Loyal Divide casually lists off its influences as consisting of Brian Eno, My Bloody Valentine, Talk Talk, and DJ Shadow. In other words, a man who invented a genre, two progressive rock bands that created arguably two of the most influential albums of their decade, and one of the premiere American hip-hop producers of all time.

You've got my attention.

The band's debut, Labrador EP, is a most impressive one. Four tracks totaling seventeen minutes seems about standard standard for an EP, but these songs are pretty dense and wrought with passion. A lovely twist.

"Vision Vision" handles that emptiness perfectly, filling about every inch of its soundscape and doing so delicately before a distorted scream explodes after the first verse. The track is as close as the band gets to pop (think Return to Cookie Mountain without the thin layer of grime and noise). Here, in the track's final moments (and on its sleeve), are the DJ Shadow influences, combing by way of a lively, infectious instrumental outro. Just tremendous work here.

"Lover I Can Tell You" is a digital ballad of something cold and tired, beginning with Green-World Eno Monster Sounds -- halting abruptly (and questionably) about a minute in -- and ending with a drifting, echoing harmony of vocals and samples. The song is quite stunning, despite the bizarre transition in the beginning.

The Loyal Divide's debut EP, despite teetering on goofy now and then, is a skillfully crafted collection of sample-heavy psychedelic rock songs. Though not perfectly conceived, it still demands to be listened to, specifically for its arrangement and texture. It's an edgy blend of familiar styles with a wide-appeal...something I can get behind.


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