THE BRACELETS – The Bracelets
(2005 Sector Five Records)
My God, where the hell did this music come from? No disrespect to the German Art Students or Burr Settles or the other couple of artists who released CDs this year that I really liked, but this is the most non-local- sounding album I’ve heard. It sounds like the desert, the mountains, an endless blue sky, but not the Midwest. Songs like these are supposed to sneak up on me from one of those sampler CDs you cut out of the middle of Paste or CMJ New Music, grabbing my attention and sending me scrambling for the track listing only half-convinced I must already know who it is. And this from the folks at Sector Five, a label better known for covering the punk/rock spectrum with bands like the Cummies, the Hat Party and Colony of Watts. Bands that would trample music this delicate if it weren’t already floating off into space.
The only thing keeping these songs tied to the earth is the semi-spoken vocals of former Driftless Pony Club bassist Ian Purvis. His barely sung and completely coherent lyrics invoke a kinder, gentler Lou Reed, who instead of taking walks on the wild side, settles for the Midwest monotony of “Cubicle City,” while “she’s out east living on grant money.” Even though he says “Madison is the same as it’s always been” (in “Miki’s Song”), you’re convinced he’s actually sitting on Howe Gelb’s Tucson ranch working on the new Giant Sand record. When drummer Timothy Vollmer isn’t adding brushed cymbals and gentle snare to the songs, he’s putting on a clear coat of glockenspiel, most effectively on the opener, the pulsing “Tug of War Match” which remains an instrumental for two-thirds of the song before Purvis comes in with vocals. Track four, the instrumental thrum “Make!” could be mistaken for Yo La Tengo on one of those songs where, thankfully, they aren’t channeling My Bloody Valentine. The third member, (the cowgirl joining the two cowboys) according to the CD sticker, is Lindsay Lueders. Her wistful pedal steel and keyboards add a slightly uneasy current of texture beneath the guitar.
Though sadly short on any information about the band or lyrics to the songs, the CD liner does contain some appealing art. It’s as if the band placed an ad asking for drawings with bracelets in them and these five artists made the cut. Misako Rocks’ distinctive (bracelet-wearing) kids charmingly grace the back cover. But the most intriguing is the back of the booklet where two hands have only their pinkies linked. Parent and child? Boyfriend and girlfriend? We’ll never know, but it gives you something to think about as you push play for the third time in a row.
What a pity there are only five songs– the curse of the EP. Please, Bracelets, can I have some more?