Monday, June 13, 2005

The Crack in Everything - Slow Dazzle's The View From the Floor

Every week I download an album from emusic - usually something that I'm curious about, but not sure I want to buy. Most of the time I'm glad I didn't spend the money, but sometimes I get lucky, like last Tuesday, when I downloaded The View From the Floor, by Slow Dazzle (Misra).

Slow Dazzle is the side project of Shannon McArdle and Timothy Bracy, of the Mendoza Line, who put together last year's excellent Fortune. The band is named after the John Cale song, and he's listed as an influence on their bio. Their name also describes several of the tracks on the album--languorous trips through a modern south soundscape.

The opening track, Fleur de Lis (mp3), (from taken from their website, wins you over instantly . Shannon McArdle channels Hope Sandoval, her voice showing a steely steadiness through haunting crescendos and flawless bends. The dissonant chopsticks-like two-note piano pulses contrast with the perfect harmony between the bass line, the synth, guitar and voice, yet complements the bright interplay between those elements, and adds just the right amount of tension to give the song that extra momentum.

The other song posted on their website is The Prosecution Rests (mp3), which has a repeating piano line that doesn't work so much for me - for some reason, it makes me think of wedding songs. To better convince people to buy, I'd have posted The Extent of My Remarks (mp3), with its sassy attitude with a southern drawl, and crazy break just before the second minute--something that defies description. It's like a manic harpsichord solo with feeback noises and bleeps substituting for the harpsichord. Or maybe they should have posted Anthem, an organ and guitar-driven song that sounds more sweet, slow southern gospel than anthem, in which Shannon McArdle sings, "There's a crack/a crack in everything/That's how the light gets in."

There are only 8 tracks on this gem. That's a good thing. There are too many artists who try to fill empty disc space with empty songs, just to get to that magical 10-12 track mark. Take off the weaker ones, and leave us with a better CD. Thank you, Slow Dazzle.

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