After a fairly misleading Iron and Wine styled acoustic intro (with either the sounds of the ocean or traffic â€” or both â€” bubbling beneath the sparse acoustic guitar and vocal), Morning Missed reveals its moody, lo-fi rock intentions with â€śCoffee and Wine.â€ť Songwriter John Bultman has a knack for intimate, dreamy wordplay throughout the albumâ€™s course, but patience is key here: Broken Cords ... is one of those recordings that need time to pick up steam.
By the time they hit the fine â€śPlastic Partsâ€ť things are rolling along quite well, and the songsâ€™ clean, multi-layered arrangement reveals a keen ear for putting interesting sounds where they count. The same could be said for â€śGive In Two,â€ť a rolling acoustic driven song that juxtaposes pastoral melody with a gritty little â€śpercussionâ€ť loop, which by the end fades into the sound of rustling leaves. In fact, the point about â€śinteresting soundsâ€ť doesnâ€™t just refer to music and notes. Many songs feature ear-tweaking borrowed material in their layers, whether itâ€™s a sample of conversation from a television commercial, as in â€śPadded Roomâ€ť or the somewhat atonal â€śtoy symphonyâ€ť elements scattered through â€śRed, Red Sea.â€ť
Broken Cords Of Rotten Wood is a good listen, though maybe not the happiest little slice of sunshine out there. If you dig anyone from the alphabetically arranged laundry list of influences included on their Myspace page, you may have been tempted to catch Morning Missed at their gig last Saturday at Guadalupe CafĂ©. Nice stuff.
True Nature Of Science: Scalar
Sharing some of the lo-fi sensibilities and sonic experimentation as Morning Missed, but with a uber noisy twist of their own, power â€śduoâ€ť True Nature Of Scienceâ€™s first album is a boiled over beaker full of cranky sounds. Fusing equal parts Devo, Yo La Tengo and an angrier version of the B52â€™s (though Iâ€™m sure those influences might seem a tad pedestrian to the band members) TNOS to a degree formed out of necessity: unable to find the right members to flesh out the band, Brian Southard decided to just do the majority of it himself, with Areli holding down drums and the occasional vocal.
Of course, this meant that Southard found a way to play distorted bass, harmonica, looped synthesizer and spit out his â€śnerd rageâ€ť inflected vocals- all at the same time. It works quite well. What Scalar might lack in variety from song to song, it makes up for with sheer personality. Beneath the snotty delivery and decidedly skewed sounds are surprisingly earnest lyrics, even with titles like â€śYou, Me and the Laws of Thermodynamicsâ€ť and â€śMe and My AOR.â€ť Every now and again a thoroughly unexpected sound pops up, a vocal is delivered in another language, or some other whacky thing occurs â€” and it happens often enough to keep things interesting through the course of the bakerâ€™s dozen and a half of tunes collected here.
Scalar, besides just being a word I really like, also turns out to be a fine CD. Though I suspect Southard and Co. know exactly what theyâ€™re doing, itâ€™s their ability to sound just on the edge of falling apart, and stay there, that draws you in. And ultimately, itâ€™s what happens while theyâ€™ve got your attention that makes you want to dig a little deeper.
My apologies to Areli, whose last name I realized I didnâ€™t know and couldnâ€™t find in time to include here. Sorry.