POZ Review: Ducktails - The Flower Lane
In the midst of winter’s cold shoulder melting away, Ducktails’ (side solo project of Real Estate guitarist Matt Mondanile) latest album The Flower Lane brings listeners one step closer to spring with 10 songs blooming with groovy vibes. “Ivy Covered House” has a chill demeanor with a funky guitar that complements Mondanile’s lax vocals. It really sets the mood for the rest of the album, followed by “The Flower Lane,” which casts an even trippier atmosphere with more lo-fi synthesizers.
“Under Cover” has a feel-good 80s vibe to it, projecting elements of soft rock with keyboards, horns and bass. “Under, do you want to go under the covers?” Mondanile smoothly teases. This is the track that makes the album spin in pirouettes, sending us off into a psychedelic parallel universe where anything goes.
Envision an awkwardly adorkable man narrating an encounter with a woman he has failed to properly pursue due to overanalyzing the situation in his head. “In the hallway, I felt anticipation/ I just want it to look away/ When I see you, my heart turns blue/ I act so shy, always around you,” Mondanile sings on “Timothy Shy.” The song sounds like something straight out of Mondanile’s noggin as he struggles to convey his intentions to his crush, backed by a steady piano and screeching guitar.
The album takes a turn somewhere out of this world halfway through the album, after “Planet Phrom.” From here on out, Mondanile puts the brakes on the tempo and takes a step away from the microphone, focusing more on instrumentation and featuring sets of fresh vocal pipes. Artists such as Madeline Follin of Cults and Jessa Farkas of Future Shuttle take the lead on “Sedan Magic” and “Letter of Intent”.
“Letter of Intent” is a quirky, modern-day love song with a beat that moves and grooves with ease. There’s something foxy about the way Mondanile and Farkas go back and forth on the chorus, hitting all the notes with a drawn out moan.
POZ Review: HRVRD - From The Bird’s Cage
Formed in 2004 in Charlotte, North Carolina, Hrvrd has been straddling the dark genre line ever since the release of their first full length, 2009’s The Inevitable and I. Falling somewhere in the blurry mess that is post-insert-your-favorite-genre-here, one can best illustrate HRVRD as an even blend of The Dear Hunter’s theatricality, Circa Survive’s alterna-rock sensibility, and the eerie overtones of Brand New’s later work. From The Bird’s Cage is not a quick study, nor is it suitable for background music; with an attentive listen, one can appreciate the elevated focus HRVRD has brought to this release as compared to their last. However, the ten-track, 41-minute record isn’t all concentrated. In fact, it often feels like a foggy walk through a forest- at times coming into great moments of clarity, others with confusion and lack of direction, but generally consistent and overall with a beautiful craft.
The record opens with an airy, echoed track (“Black Crème”) encouraging their listeners, or perhaps themselves, that “This is bigger than you / this is better.” A gradual escalation of ambient guitar notes whirring passively in the background leads into the strong “Timid Scripts,” a pulsing, mid-tempo song with a thick rhythm section which clearly has control throughout the entire thing. The floaty, background guitar riffs are a tactic used both to the band’s benefit and detriment as the album plays through. While the escalation coils like a boa constrictor on the cold, haunting “New Information,” songs like “We Never Shut Up About You” feel like you’re chasing down a tangible melody or climactic moment that you never actually catch. Easily enjoyable and traditional rock ‘n roll song conventions are present in “Futurist,” while “Flaming Creatures” sounds like a fleshier version of Brand New’s “Millstone.”
Employing some unexpected musical elements against such a homogenous design, Hrvrd installs some stylistically refreshing moments during the record’s course. “Kids With Fake Guns” is punctuated with a sad-brass-and-piano outro, and album standout “Cardboard Homes” commences with a folky rhythm to then, with a start, pair up with the most powerful, melodically entrancing chorus of the entire record. The refrain of “Cardboard Homes” is a moment of clarity buried in a record that is heavily overlapped with well-written parts to some points of obscurity, and to hear vocalist Jesse Clasen declare “Call for the blood of your leader! / Cardboard homes for your people!” causes one to stop dead in their tracks.