Clearing Out The Mailroom: Tuesday, June 22, 2010.

We've got quite a backlog of CDs we've never gotten around to, so we're going to try to chip away at the pile with this regular feature. The plan: to take a few at a time and play each CD for as long as I can stand it.

Sugar and Gold (San Francisco)
Get Wet! (Antenna Farm)

The second full-length from Wham! Sugar and Gold, seems to be a sparkly hammer that the group hopes to groove you over the head with until you truly think it's 1983 and not 2010. The electro dance-pop thing is being done to death, but, unfortunately for this act, it's being done to death in a far more inventive fashion by other groups. When a band relies solely on sounds of the past to provide its own signature feel, there's a great responsibility to present that vintage vibe in a manner that is revitalized, and not merely reintroduced as is. Judging from the albums two opening numbers, it seems as though Sugar and Gold have crafted a solid promotional disc that will hopefully win them some coveted corporate picnic and wedding gigs in the near future.
I made it to: through track two, "Sneek Freaq."

Frontier Ruckus (Detroit)
Deadmalls & Nightfalls (Ramseur)

Hailing from Detroit--not exactly a hotbed of Americana greatness--Matthew Milia and his four bandmates have stepped up their game with their second album. Rootsy folk with chamber-pop leanings, their latest album is a more accessible offering than their previous release, the rough-and-tumble The Orion Songbook. While some of the grit and character from their first disc was sacrificed for a slightly more polished production this time around, the soul of their sound wasn't sold to a poppy devil by any means. Milia's emotive, frail vocals lend the tunes a filmy, backwoods feel that wouldn't likely survive in any other genre. Any group that can poetically and effectively drop in lyrics such as "perfunctory" and "exoskeleton" are clearly an imaginative set. By the time a few tracks roll by, however, the trend of tunes where a slow crawling acoustic guitar yields to a swelling group of horns that join forces to provide the song with some definite forward motion grows a bit monotonous. Individually, though, the songs are rather enjoyable.
I made it to: through track seven, "Does Me In."

Athens V. Sparta (Austin)
The History of the Peloponnesian War (Absence of Romance)

A retelling of the story of Thucydides (an Athenian general and aristocrat) has never been so... well... ambient? While this large collection of artists and musicians have, indeed, made a noble effort to entertain while simultaneously educating, the end result is little more than background sounds for the latest uptown ultralounge that will likely have its liquor license revoked before the album finishes playing. Using soft, electro-beats and synths to provide the backdrop to the words, the first couple of tunes feel as though they are each ten minutes long, even though they aren't anywhere near such a length. The spoken word delivery of the subject matter is intriguing, but not intriguing enough for me to digest the entire story that is playing out.
I made it to: 37 seconds into track three, "The Archidamian War."