Thursday, November 25, 2010

The latest from T and Picture Atlantic


Hey Liebe

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As far as the art of the album goes, Bay Area scene veteran Theresa “T” Sawi has it down. Hey Liebe, her long-awaited full-length debut under the Girl Named T moniker, is almost perfect in terms of the form of the album, and it plays almost like an early Beatles album--concise, two-and-a-half-minute pop-rock ditties about love and loneliness that shoot out of your headphones one after the other like machine gun bullets.

T has obvious songwriting skills--what she lacks in subject range (there is not a single song on this album that isn’t about love and/or beauty) she makes up for with evocative lyrics that are tight and well-written but seem almost stream-of-consciousness at the same time. This is also one of those rare albums that cover vast expanses of stylistic ground but flow excellently and keep a consistent sound. From the smooth jazz of “Hey Love” to the scorching new-wave “Model In The Media,” Hey Liebe is an album that bends and shifts its central backbone into all sorts of fascinating and graceful contortions. There is no sense of schizophrenia or stylistic confusion here--everything matches up, and while the songs have many different shapes and colors, they fit together like puzzle pieces into one mosaic. And this is not easy to do for any artist--even T’s band, Please Do Not Fight, had a bit of trouble with this on their recent Move EP.

It’s also difficult to ignore the gloss on this album. The production is clean as a whistle, and T does sound a lot like a Nashville studio-pop singer. Many lo-fi snobs will find this reason alone to stay away from this album. Personally, I’m not picky about my production, and while there is no question about this being a pop album, it’s a pop album in the best sense--a well-crafted collection of honest, unpretentious songs that whoosh by but stick in your head.


When Everything Is Numbers - EP

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Picture Atlantic didn’t fool anybody. Their recent single “I Am Not The King Of Anything” displayed some *gasp* modesty, pairing Nik Bartunek’s schizophrenic vocals with moody guitars and gothic organs and displaying little to none of their characteristic bombast. But even a simple look at the song titles on When Everything Is Numbers (“Joust,” “What Men Live By”) will tell you Bartunek and company are back to their old alt-mythology-rock hijinks. However, this is not to say this EP is devoid of sonic experimentation. The most interesting things happen when the group steps outside its characteristic sound--the highlights of this EP are the almost Robyn-ish synth-rocker “With One Clipped Wing” and the Finish Ticket-goes-Into The Great Wide Open rocker “What Men Live By.” While the rest of the album is archetypal Picture Atlantic, it’s great to hear the group experiment in this way, and let’s hope they keep up the tinkering for future releases.

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