This might be my favourite episode of The Folk Bloke yet – not for any actually professional reasons, just because I managed to get songs from Skyrim and Future of the Left into it.
The Quiet Americans
November 20, 2011
November 15, 2011
There’s little doubt that there’s something annoying about music writers consistently utilising the trusty band comparison in their work; not least, I imagine, for the bands themselves. If you’re a new band*, just starting to fill gigs through your own hard work, there’s probably little worse than some journalist or, dare I say it, blogger drawing a hasty line between your music and that of another, most probably more established, artist. It could influence potential listeners, leading them to expect something that isn’t delivered on or, worse still, make them simply not want to listen at all. At the very least, it will most probably rankle having your own writing, musical or lyrical, made to seem simply derivative. I imagine you can see where this is going by now.
The Quiet Americans, a new band, remind me of The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, an established band.
Honestly though, I’ll explain myself. You see, I have no interest in a straight comparison unless I’m actually reading about a tribute band. What I look for in this kind of device is how it sets up an idea and then modifies it – thinking of other music as a base for a new band rather than a guide is not only more flattering to both parties, but actually representative of most music nowadays. Given that the vast majority of music I would consider good is capable of being defined by genre, the fact that I think it’s good means that, generally, it’s doing something different on top of its base to make itself stand out.
So step up The Quiet Americans, who have taken what I loved about PoBPaH’s first album – a knack for an effervescent melody, trendy fuzz and winsome attitude – and went in quite the opposite direction from their second, which I disliked rather a lot. The fuzz is thicker, the feel more intimate – these are songs that manage to sound contemporary without seeming constructed or disaffected. Of course, a comparison is never a complete review, and this certainly isn’t the complete of catgut to The Quiet Americans’ bow. With some mighty-sounding blues dropping in and out, songs like ‘Be Alone’ and ‘Weird Mountain’ add some heft to the expected meekness of C86 sonics whilst ‘Falling’s steely stomp continues the trend.
Of course, a writer is rarely trying to simply discredit, belittle or permanently sum up a band with a comparison, even if it is an essentially useless, basic one. It’s a useful tool for making the nebulous world of music writing a little more tangible (or at least psychically audible). With that in mind, if you like what you reckon you can hear, then I would highly recommend downloading (or, heaven forbid, buy) the band’s debut EP, Medicine from their Bandcamp or if you want one more hurdle for the band to jump, grab the download below and see what you think.
*And frankly I imagine it pisses off big bands** almost as much.
**Not big bands like Harry Connick Jr. by the way. Well, not necessarily.