Quick Spins: The Winebirds, Faded Paper Figures and New Age Beatles covers“Quick Spins” are expedient, pretension-free music reviews. This installment tackles the Winebirds’ “Séance Hill,” Faded Paper Figures’ “New Medium” and David Lanz’s “Liverpool,” a spirited re-imagining of classic Lennon and McCartney compositions.
The Winebirds’ “Séance Hill”
WHAT IT IS: Three guys and two girls — all Portland natives — crafting tunes that are A) as indie-tastic as Belle & Sebastian, B) as radio-friendly as Fleetwood Mac or Rilo Kiley and …
WHAT ONE JERK THINKS ABOUT IT: … C) inherently timeless. I’ve only been spinning this record for about a week, but it feels like it’s been with me forever, as if I grew up with it. And this is, by no means, a derogatory statement: I can see myself listening to this one for decades to come as well. Is it the co-ed, layered vocals that do the trick? Or the time-capsule manner in which the band moves from mature musical element to another? Perhaps it’s all of these things. “The Solution” is riveting entertainment; leadoff track “I Obscenity in Thy Mother’s Milk” is just bursting with nervous autumn energy; and “Out in the Van,” with its cries of “You’re gonna leave me by the river,” is as chilling as its hazy narrative allows it to be. … I don’t know much about the group members’ collective hometown of Portland, Ore., but I sure as hell know it’s not as vast and diverse as the Winebirds’ sound is. I’d love to hear a mix tape comprised of key tracks from their influences, just to see how they got to this high level of musicianship as if out of nowhere.
WHAT YOU SHOULD DO ABOUT IT: Buy it. This is one of those records that will change your life. No joke. Looking ahead, I can definitely see the Matthew R. Perrine of 2025 rereading this review and chastising himself (myself) for not doing more to broadcast how utterly amazing this group is.
… BUT YOU DON’T HAVE TO TAKE MY WORD FOR IT: Find the band at www.thewinebirds.com or listen to “Séance Hill” over at http://thewinebirds.bandcamp.com.
Faded Paper Figures’ “New Medium”
WHAT IT IS: An L.A.-by-way-of-New Haven, Conn., trio (hey, whatever works!) that sports a groove-heavy, entrenched-in-Top 40 brand of danceable indie rock that recalls such beloved acts as Self, Matt & Kim and, to a lesser extent, the Postal Service.
WHAT ONE JERK THINKS ABOUT IT: This week’s unabashed “lovefest” continues with Faded Paper Figures’ “New Medium.” There’s just not a dull moment on this fine record. Sure, there are some less-intense tracks, like “Rewind,” but that’s the kind of territory where the group’s female vocalist, Heather Alden, really shines. This is not to dismiss the contributions of male singer/guitarist R. John Williams (third member Kael Alden also sings backup once in a while), but his subdued vocals work extraordinarily well against the backdrop of the upbeat tracks — as is the case with the must-hear-now standout “You Know What I Mean.” When Faded Paper Figures is going at full force, the experience is as intense as an all-out dance track (more LCD Soundsystem than David Guetta, but still…). When the trio pares it down for a spell, it’s still unavoidably pretty. It’s the best of both worlds.
WHAT YOU SHOULD DO ABOUT IT: Buy it. Like dance music or indie rock? Faded Paper Figures is somewhere in the middle; fans of both genres will undoubtedly fall to their knees for this trio.
… BUT YOU DON’T HAVE TO TAKE MY WORD FOR IT: Learn all about this wonderful group at www.fadedpaperfigures.com.
David Lanz’s “Liverpool”
WHAT IT IS: Recorded in Bellingham, Wash., “Liverpool” is celebrated pianist David Lanz’s carefully considered interpretation of the Beatles’ musical legacy. Classics covered include “Norwegian Wood (This Bird has Flown),” “Lovely Rita” and “Eight Days a Week.”
WHAT ONE JERK THINKS ABOUT IT: Umm … not quite my cup of tea, to be honest. I don’t know what I was expecting — the magic Brad Mehldau wove with his cover of Radiohead’s “Exit Music (For a Film),” perhaps, or any of the Bad Plus’ impeccable reinterpretations — but when I listen to this, all I hear is xiao flute. In my book, nothing destroys a record’s replayability factor quicker than the presence of that dreaded Chinese instrument. I’m afraid that once it makes an appearance, its host album is quickly reduced to the level of elevator music. Or lobby music. Or the music you hear when you call customer service to complain about … oh, you get the picture.
WHAT YOU SHOULD DO ABOUT IT: Proceed with caution. While I personally did not dig Lanz’s interpretations of Beatles classics, it could be right up your alley.
… BUT YOU DON’T HAVE TO TAKE MY WORD FOR IT: Learn more about the works of this Grammy-nominated composer and pianist at www.davidlanz.com.
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