23 February 2008

Stuck In My Head/Check This: Georgie James, Places

So, I think since the beginning of the month I’ve been unconsciously attempting to cram as much indie powerpop into my head as possible before falling over in a suger-coated, harmony-and-handclap-induced coma, all in a mad attempt to soothe that Scamper-shaped hole in my heart. (Try saying that ten times fast.) To wit: my latest record obsession, pop duo Georgie JamesPlaces, released last September on Saddle Creek.

When I mentioned to my friends that one-half of Georgie James is John Davis, former drummer of Q and Not U, I got some scrunched noses and funny looks. “I don’t really like Q and Not U ,” Jenn said, and Kim agreed. Indeed, I’m surprised that I like Q and Not U, because it’s really not the sort of thing you’d expect me to like. “Dinner table friends!” I said, “Fear not! Georgie James (comprised of Davis and friend Laura Burhenn) is about as different from Q and Not U as possible.” (Not that there's anything wrong with...okay, we've covered this.)

I don’t know how to put this other than that I really really like this record. It bursts in with the peppy, driving “Look Me Up” and never really lets go from there, keeping the energy going right up ‘til the last track, “Only ‘Cause You’re Young,” which is just as perky and handclappy. (And what a relief! I find it disheartening when bands smoosh their best tracks to the first half of the record, leaving the end to trail off in a forgettable lack of liveliness.) Cuts like “Cake Parade,” “Long Week,” and “You Can Have It” take it down a notch; lead single “Need Your Needs” (probably my favourite of the lot), title track “Places,” and “Cheap Champagne” will make you want to dance again.

There are many lovely things about Places:

The whole thing is a work of contrasts: lively piano, Laura’s floaty vocals, handclaps, tambourine, sleigh bells, and super-addictive melodies are juxtaposed with lines like You smile about the ways which you made her suffer and Looks like a perfect day/To put our soldiers in an early grave.

The songs all flow in the same pop vein, but the never morph into each other because a slew of ‘60s rock influences (The Beatles, The Kinks, The Zombies, etc.) keep them from dissolving into an amorphous blob of twee. (Twee has its place; it’s not here.)

The wordplay is smart, even wise. (“The life of a genius is a sad one,” if you say so; They give us pretty pills to take the pain away/They let us wash it down with cheap champagne; Thunder is still a frightening sound/But we’re just finding things we’ve already found; You need your needs to get along)

The whole thing flies by in about 40 minutes, which may be a good thing or not, depending on how you look at it. I think it's good; for one thing, I have the attention span of a gnat, so the three-minute pop blitzes work for me, and for another, it leaves you wanting more. And isn't that what a good record should do?

It’s sweet, fresh, and openly joyful without being sticky, repetitive, or fluffy. In short, pop perfection.

Georgie James - Need Your Needs [link]
Georgie James - Cake Parade [link]

I know I've been paying attention to the blogosphere since late September, and yet, I can't remember any mention of this record. (Although the Hype Machine tells me otherwise.) Was I just not reading the right blogs? That's probably it. I hope that's it. In "Comfortable Headphones," Laura and John sing out, We think music is for the air/And our music is everywhere.

It certainly should be.

Georgie James has announced that they'll be playing SXSW in a few weeks.
Meanwhile, lala.com has a sweet deal for Places, through which you buy the CD and can download the record straightaway while you're waiting. Instant gratification! Joy!

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