Sunday, March 8, 2009

SXSW '09 Pick #14: Maximum Jangle with The Parties!

The Parties

Can't Come Down
Rainbow Quartz Records

The Parties are a mod band that plays two 12-string electric guitars. That's the best description. Not psychedelic, not mod, not Byrds influenced. All of the above. They call it Maximum Jangle. What one finds on their debut Can't Come Down is a lot of songs all built around their sound that do, in fact, touch on late '60s garage, mod, early psych, '60s LA folk rock, The Paisley Undergound, and modern psych with older twists. Although that covers a lot of musical territory, one notices the most that their sound is their own with a combination of eras and influences led by vocal/12-string, left handed Vox Phantom wizard Jeremy Powers. "Love For Sale" floats like an '80s psych anthem, complete with an effect laden intro, almost choral opening vocals, a deep, melodic bass from Rex Paddyhag, a catchy guitar melody intro, and definitely 'trippy' guitar to compliment the melody that send it into melodic psychedelia, although with plenty of feedback. It hooks and pulls one right in. Tripped out, raw guitar, psychedelic pop much like not only modern influences like The Asteroid #4 and The High Dials, but also nods to The Rain Parade and The Church. Then the higher harmonic pitch of the refrain "She did it again" sends one into The Stratosphere. "Breaking Hearts" leans towards a more basic approach, but the jangle has a lot more feedback than the classic Rickenbacker 'tinny' sound. It's got this early Who sense of rawness and the occasional Keith Moonish drumrolls from John Morgan, but instead of Maximum R & B, we get Maximum Jangle! "Cold Life" has a more "classic" 12-string Rick sound, but the song introduces us to guitarist Sarah Mehlfield, who's Velvet(y) Underground tone combines with LA folk and Burt Bacharach coolness to create a fully electrified folk experience (Sarah has since departed). "Yours and Mine" probably comes the closest to classic jingle jangle in tempo, but it also has a great, live sound with a tambourine taking a central role. The title track takes an echoed, smooth approach with a full sound air that feels like a late, inebriated evening where the music fills the room like The Mama's & The Papa's if they had mixed sweet harmonies with a lot more guitar and "All Tomorrow's Parties".

After deeper, introspective tones, "Radio" is a more chord driven psych number which provide an upbeat, rock lift that's accentuated with a good amount of fuzz and still retains a '60s innocence and simplicity. The select number of people that I've turned on to The Parties were turned on by "Velvet Love Affair," which has a slight '60s country rock/folk tinge that reminds one of The Stone Pony's interpretation of Mike Nesmith's a different drum. Although all the tracks on Can't Come Down move around a dual 12-string sound, "Waterfall" goes into '80s Paisly Underground interspersed with the louder, mod revival powerpop. One sees one of the forumulas in The Parties of airy psychedelic melodies twisted with feedback, fuzz, and even folk. These seem to come together in "Gotta Get Out", a slow, modish song that would have been at home on Quadrophenia, especially with the words "I've got my head in the clouds, all for the chance of impressing a girl" that could only make one think of Jimmy's identity crisis "Cut My Hair".

With the mix of feebacked early psych and folk rock played as more lush, layered but still fuzzed out songs on most of "Can't Come Down", the title track comes as a little bit of a shock as a full jangly powerpop song that although it's my favorite track, it's definitely a standout compared to most of the album. What's even more shocking is the slide guitar intro of the ending "Much Better", but this one somehow just puts a lump in one's throat with Everly Brothers like harmonies. Additionally, it's a chord based rock song that somehow combines a faster melody with a slower but groovy rhythm over it. It's another song that makes one stop and marvel at how special The Parties are.

The Parties make jangly psych rock that's too fuzzy to be powerpop, but there's a range of musical styles from airy psychedelic, electric folk, and jangly fuzz that might leave most listeners unsure of what to call them. Truthfully, a great band either does the same thing over and over and does it brilliantly every time, or they challenge themselves and their fans by using their own, original sound to take bigger jumps from without transforming into something less exciting than they were. The latter can be said about The Parties. Every song has strong points, whether it's in a deep, folky simplicity, trippy electric psych, or just rock 'n' roll with a maximum jangle, The Parties have their own voice that lies in their sound. Once one hears a few tracks, they'll recognize the remaining tracks as distinctive and sounding more like The Parties, a band that invented Maximum Jangle!

"Gotta Get Out"

SXSW Appearances

Mar 21 2009 3:00p.m. The International Psychout! SXSW Day Party Austin, Texas
Mar 21 2009 8:00p.m. SXSW Showcase - B. D. Riley’s Irish Pub Austin, Texas

Note: Rough Draft, Disraelis misspelled

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