Stephen Konrads and PEPPER RABBIT – recommended by Passion Pit

Musical recommendations are always a risky business. One man’s Pearl Jam is liable to be another chap’s Dave Matthews Band, or still worse.  It seems to me that music triggers a strongly personal chemical reaction in each of us – certain sounds, beats, chords, voices, instruments or whatever might be manna to heaven from me, yet inexorably insignificant to a friend of mine – even though we both like Solid Gold, or Jack Penate, or Dire Straits.

One thing I have found is that tip-offs from acts I like about acts they like rarely seem to end well.  Perhaps it’s because subconsciously I expect to like said tip-off, because I love the act that recommended them and so why wouldn’t I?  In fact, expecting to like something hardly ever leads to the anticipated adulation.  Or perhaps it’s because acts are bored of their own sound, so they recommend something different, but I really like their sound, and actually I don’t like this different thing.  Bastards – how dare they do something different??? 

Whatever the reason, here’s one that’s bucked the trend for me at least.   In an interview just published on Dazed, Passion Pit – a band I, being a cool blogger de rigeur, fricking adore (despite the fact that tonight they’re playing at Vibe Bar and I can’t go because my friend, who’ll remain nameless, but let’s call her Susan for the sake of it, took too long deciding if she could come and so OF COURSE it sold out.  Anyway I’m fine with it and not bitter) – recommended three less-known acts that they follow.  Because I already know and love one of them, Magic Magic, I gave the other two a whirl.  And boy are they fantastic:

Stephen Konrads
Still shy of a 1000 friends on MySpace, Konrads is evidently very much an unknown quantity.  It’s not likely to stay that way for long, judging by the songs on his page.  On offer is a darker, more considered rock than Massachusetts neighbours Passion Pit, although equally catchy, complete with Stephen’s Nick Cave-esque, laconic voice.  I like how House of the Lord more or less completely stops in the middle, as if for half-time oranges, before returning to its previous bouncy rhythm and raucous, straggly vocals, only to then slow down again into a gentle electro reverie.  “Don’t tell me what to do”, it seems to say, “because dammit I’ll do the opposite”. And that’s fine by me.   Staging Actors is a simpler ditty, but framed around a natty little keyboard beat.  It’s jigalicious stuff and I can’t wait to hear more.

Stephen Konrads – House of the Lord (zSHARE)

Much murkier and more grandiose sound-wise, California duo PR have a few more fans and more songs to get stuck into.  General themes are piercing and occasionally high-pitched vocals, gorgeous cameos from fancy instruments like harps (I think) and trumpets, interludes of pure tripped-down electronica, occasional background choruses, and a dreamy, sprawling feel to their gorgeous tunes – very slightly reminiscent of Yeasayer in that last quality. Red Wine tells a pretty torturous tale and yet is the musical equivalent of rolling in a huge pile of silk sheets; None Shall Sleep is gritty and sombre, but framed with a tender, bubbling string backing; while In The Spirit of Beauregard feels like a vaudeville piano song from a musical scored by Yes.  Most impressive of all, there’s not one weak song among the eight on offer.


Will you like my own musical tips?  Let’s hope so!


~ by ripamel on 08/07/2009.

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