“ArpLine�s Travel Book is an album requiring almost repeated listens. If not to try and discern the purposefully hidden lyrics, but to try to recapture the dizzying heights to which the band propels you above any other Brooklyn Band currently playing. ArpLine is unique. While other bands mine the shallow music of the 1980s or (God help you) the worst aspects of the 1970s, ArpLine is trying to find a way forward leaving their peers in the dust, trying to gain an artistry that merely acknowledges the past while refusing to be a slave to it. That if for no other reason demands that you give ArpLine your attention.” – Greenshoelace.com
Hooray For Earth
While it sounds like the lesson plan from a first grade science class in Vermont, Hooray For Earth is actually a four piece indie pop-rock band out of Boston and New York, and a name music junkies will be hearing much more of in 2010.
Hooray For Earth�s front man, Noel Heroux, cites the old Nickelodeon show �Invader Zen� as inspiration for the band�s name. In an episode of the alien invasion cartoon, humans put up a �Hooray for Earth� flag. After hearing the story behind the music, however, �Hooray For New York� seems a more appropriate name for the band.
Although Hooray For Earth formed in 2006, when all four band members lived in Boston, it was only when Heroux moved to New York a year later that the group truly grew into its musical skin and developed the refreshing sound flaunted on their new EP, Momo. While Heroux can�t recall a motive behind his move, he admits there was a point where he considered leaving Hooray For Earth and doing something else entirely, just to get out of his slump. Listening to the infectiously spirited sounds of Momo, it�s hard to imagine that was ever an option, and a relief that the old friends stuck together.
Hearing Heroux talk about his life as a grumpy hermit in Boston, where he dropped out of music school and lived in a bubble of cynicism and anger, brings a world of clarity to the huge gap between HFE�s Boston-made music and the tracks on Momo, the band�s first release since the city jump. Heroux acknowledges that HFE�s pre-New York vibe was �heavier, more cynical, and sounded like someone living in a bubble and not sleeping enough.� Contrary to critical opinion of this city, Heroux found New York to be �a breath of fresh air,� where he was so overwhelmed by everything going on outside of himself that he was able to finally break out of his shell and really explore the world around him.
Momo seems a perfect exhibit of that positive transition, and thus an ode to New York City and the staggering creativity and awareness it can awaken. From the catchy, can�t-get-it-out-of-your-head first track, �Surrounded By Your Friends,� to the beaming confidence exuded in the final track, �Form,� Momo shows no sign of the misery left behind in Boston, even though two band members still live there. Whether or not Momo simply benefits from the joyful introduction of tambourine and synth, both decidedly absent from HFE�s earlier and angrier work, is unclear. Yet the welcome addition of these elements is likely a result of the boundless possibilities that spawned Heroux�s new outlook on life, and in effect, the new sound coming from Hooray For Earth.
The very release of Momo is proof in itself of the potential that overwhelms Heroux (and most New Yorkers) every day. In the fall of 2009, Hooray For Earth received an email from eMusic regarding its �Selects� program, which showcases the records of exceptional unsigned artists. At first HFE wrote the email off as spam, until they looked into it and realized it was no joke. Since its inception in February 2008, eMusic Selects has featured records by Crystal Stilts, Best Coast, and Julianna Barwick.
Hooray For Earth moved quickly to send eMusic a couple of songs they had been working on, and soon they had a deal. The band only had a few new tracks at that point, so they convinced eMusic to let them do an EP. To meet their December 1 release date, HFE rushed to produce three more tracks, and until February 1, Momo was available exclusively through eMusic. Thanks to the publicity garnered by two months of airtime, HFE is now signed to a yet to be announced New York-based indie label. Apparently, they too recognize that any band capable of rushing an album like Momo has a lot more up its sleeve.
Death�s sooty fingerprints cover nearly every inch of Rapture Ready, I Gazed At The Body, the debut EP from Brooklyn�s Midnight Masses. But its songs, … (more) as prone to uplift as they are to despair, are anything other than simple elegies. Writing in the 2008 wake of his father�s untimely death, Autry Rene Fulbright called on some of his closest friends to help him channel his grief via quarter-inch tape, reverb pedals, and Gospel choirs. The result is a collection of four songs (recorded by one of said friends, Gerard Smith of TV on the Radio), which exist as a beautifully succinct examination of the immutable ties of family and the difficulty we humans have with accepting death.
Rapture begins atop the mournful resignation of �Walk On Water,� Fulbright reassuring his mother (and anyone who has suffered a loss) that there�s no guilt to be had in carrying on. Swelling guitars chime in the distance, as a muffled drum mimics the stilted cadence of a hospital heart monitor. The record then crescendos through the micro-soul metaphysics of suicide saga �Preacher�s Son� and �I Was A Desperate Man,� before cresting into the delicate harmonies of �Do You Believe In Rapture,� a completely re-envisioned cover of a Rather Ripped era Sonic Youth number re-contextualized as the EP�s punctuation.
Truly communal, these songs bear the mark of countless musicians, all shepherded under the watchful eye of Brooklyn-By-Way-Of-Bible-Belter Fulbright. �Water� features TV on the Radio�s Jaleel Bunton signing lead vocals on each verse, while �Desperate Man� finds Fulbright relinquishing lead duties to the milky-voiced Katie Eastburn. Longtime collaborators Conrad Keely and Kevin Allen of Trail of Dead (the band whose recording sessions birthed Midnight Masses, and whose Jason Reece is a founding member), both lend their talents to the record, on keys and guitar respectively. But the core of the group is ERIC RODGERS (guitar/vocals), MIYUKI FURTADO (drums/bass/guitar/vocals), DESTINY MONTAGUE (guitar/vocals/percussion) and DANIEL WOOD (bass/vocals) a quartet of musicians able to make songs about death sound unmistakably alive, emerging as a tangle of dark hued Soul, yearning minimalism and warmly reassuring rock music.
With little more than a half dozen songs put to tape, Midnight Masses has already landed praise from Billboard Magazine, who called their self-released 2009 Heaven 7-inch �an enlightening, beautifully lush set.� Wired likened the bands� sound to Billie Holiday fronting the Doors, while The Tripwire called them �a spiritually engrossing psychedelic rock experience.� But no matter what the descriptors, the common thread throughout everything that has been written about Midnight Masses is simple: something very, very big is going on within these simple songs about death and life and ghosts and demons. On November 10th, everyone will be able to join in the search for what exactly that is, when Rapture Ready, I Gazed At The Body will become available digitally via Collect Records.