Eager Eyes EP
* * * 1/2
Ladies and gentlemen: the other teen rock n’ roll band from Alameda! While their inevitably arena-bound buddies Finish Ticket like their music as big as their ambitions, Eager Eyes (formerly In The Attic) play lean, modest pop rock with a post-punk bent. Tasteful is the word to describe Eager Eyes; their arrangements are neither dense nor sparse, filled with subtle textural touches (the electric piano on “First Impressions,” the ballpark organ that closes standout “Alarms”), and these songs are brief and unpretentious. Their pop appeal is cemented by Chris Maier’s warm, instantly likeable voice, which finds a nice middle ground between ennui-laced indie drawl and sexy teen-pop croon. However, every three-minute pop single needs a memorable hook, and earworms are not Eager Eyes’ strength--these tunes flow into your ears very pleasantly but never quite stick.
* * *
Dillon Lee of teen garage-and-ganja-rock outfit The Inq has stepped out on his own with a mini-album of eclectic avant-electro experiments. His most effective tracks are the ones that combine his vocals and guitar with electronics, particularly the opener “Pairadox” and the Deerhunter-ish closing ballad “Slow Tides.” The rest are mostly simple electronic tracks that sound like rudimentary hip-hop beats or, at best, something Xiu Xiu might construct (I would love to hear “Eye Mist” with a Jamie Stewart vocal). “Pairadox” is by far the best moment here, a warped electro-pop jam that recalls chillwave pioneer Neon Indian’s recent experiments with video-game bleeps.
* * 1/2
The songs on Oakland post-rockers Broken Cities’ second release, the three-song, twenty-minute mini-album Parable, are the definition of slow-burners. Each song begins with an ominous, moody dirge and, over five to eleven minutes, builds up to a massive, crashing climax worthy of the giant, building-consuming flames on the album’s sleeve. Pulling off this sort of large-scale drama is difficult, and while Broken Cities have the potential to do so quite effectively, the album’s production often counteracts the intended effect. While the instruments blended together quite effectively on the band’s more lo-fi debut, 2010‘s Flux, Parable’s production brings out the loud, dramatic climaxes while simultaneously muting them, making what could have been fantastic post-rock bombast seem like little more than disjunct dynamic switches.