october mp3 roundup

The Beets – Friends of Friends
Shimmering Stars – Nervous Breakdown

Mezzanine Owls – Tethered to the Fountain
Evan Voytas – Nothing Compares 2 U (Prince cover)
Forest Fire – Mtns Are Mtns
James Vincent McMorrow – Wicked Game (Chris Isaak cover)

i am hidden in plain sight

As it turns out, the west is not broken. On sophomore release Now or Heaven, LA’s The Broken West offer up a highly polished mix of rock and pop. Though not audio gold, it’s a solid album that draws on sounds from the last twenty years.

Sounds similar to those of Spoon and Something for Kate dominate the first section of the album. “Elm City” carries the percussion of a rainy, late-night autumn walk, strings and darkness brushing your cheek, while the quick drum beat and thudding left-hand piano on “Auctioneer” proves itself an excellent single.

The latter half of the album is more 80s dominated, but not with the angular, artificial sound that usually jumps to mind with the term. Swagger, plunking piano, and fuzzy guitar reverb marks “House of Lies”. Closer “Embassy Row” has a slinkiness to it, and on “Terror For Two” one could almost mistake the vocalist for Jarvis Cocker.

Unfortunately, Now or Heaven suffers one major misstep with “Got It Bad”. The minimal bass, synth, and echo on the tune is Prince-influenced, but comes nowhere near even reaching an homage. The track is superfluous and probably should have been cut from the album or at the very least included in the form of a  bonus track.

Now or Heaven drops 09/09/08.
For more on The Broken West, check out their MySpace page.
Click on the player below to listen to “Auctioneer”.