bodies of water a certain feeling
  • WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 06, 2008

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The unnavigable sea of music is often unforgiving to the simplest of bands, pawning them off as cheap knockoffs or boring, uninspiring muck. I can see how the worlds of snobbery could swing both ways on Bodies of Water, either praising the melodic structure, gospel/punk/folk influences all smooshed together and whipped or tearing it down for being uninspiring or failing. I'm going to join the praise camp; this is an album that is both refreshing, and inviting, striking a delightfully cohesive and interesting tone throughout. Comparisons to the Mamas and the Papas is certain, but the true channel is new favorites like Port O'Brien. Replay value is taken for granted, and scarce... which is why an album like this is like Christmas in August.

Their second album takes a darker tone than the first, moving from a sunnier hand-clapping sing along to a darker, more brooding kind of prog-gospel. The beginning of A Certain Feeling moves from an almost Neil Diamond-esque verse to jubilant, yet pained shouts of "oh oh oh!" all without turning jaded or losing momentum; this isn't a roller coaster, its a non-stop time-warp. Instruments appear and reappear like old friends, when the clarinet rears for brief stint in "Only You," it feels more like it was missing before than it's intruding in the song: a mark of well layered songwriting. Bodies makes use of a large variety of this unlikely instruments in harmonious combination with their guitar riffs and soul-chorus singing. "Water Here" sounds like a b-side from Jesus Christ Superstar, co-written by Webber and Jack White.

Thus the album's effective combination of several unlikely genres produces something worth listening to: the gospel of indie rock, according to four inspired west coast musicians with endless surprises. This is certainly American neo-folk, for a new generation of music lovers. -joe puglisi

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