Indie Weirdo Round-Up (Capsule Reviews)

Silent City – Brian Harnetty and Bonnie Prince Billy (Atavistic)
Though Silent City‘s 40 minutes is made primarily of Harnetty’s folk-based sound collages, it is three vocal performances by Will Oldham that act as its anchor. On “Some Glad Day,” the Bonnie Prince adds a lilting shanty melody to a fairly traditional, Eno-like ambience filled with drifting electric pianos and drones. “And Under the Winesap Tree” finds him intoning him over a post-jazz snare and Rhodes clouds. Hearing a strum-free Oldham is a delight, and one wishes for more of him on the album. Harnetty’s other pieces are lovely, too. “The Top Hat” rolls with tentative, atmospheric banjo and gently spastic barroom piano, but—after hearing Oldham’s rich voice completing Harnetty’s thoughts elsewhere—it’s hard to listen with anything but his absence. Elsewhere, like the closing “The Night Is and the Lights Are,” Harnetty makes it his own (especially as it morphs into a brokedown fiddle breakdown).


Atlantic City Expressway EP – Real Estate (self-released)
And just like that, more lo-fi beach-time psych grooviness — two 7-inches and a tour CD-R, Atlantic City Expressway, from New Jersey’s Real Estate. An offshoot (or whatever) of Ducktails, Real Estate’s take is nothing but dappled sunlight. Beneath the fuzz is a sequence of exotica-tinged guitar jams which ring like the mellower moments of Yo La Tengo’s I Can Hear the Heart Beating As One. “Beach Comber” gets a little gallop going behind it that sounds like (and might actually be) a real drummer, but in other places—the evocatively drifty “Pool Swimmers”—it’s not entirely clear. In places, the tunes themselves seem a bit nebulous. There’s not much to “Saturday Morning.” At least until one buys into the vague ’80s nostalgia of it all, and then it’s alright. The five-song EP closes with the comparatively ambitious “Suburban Dogs.” “Carry me back to sweet Jersey,” they sing, “Back where I long to be.” And one can almost buy into that, too. And that’s pretty impressive.