Hot Congress Compilation 1 (Hot Congress, 2009)
For: See Below
Byline: NOTE. This is not an endorsement for Scott Brown and his chiseled features.
I feel a little guilty about sitting on this for so long. I feel guilty because this is a totally amazing compilation and the good folks at Hot Congress are practically giving it away. Scratch that, they are giving it away! Hot Congress, while cool as an idea works even better in its execution. A group of friends living in Denver, playing in bands, working day jobs, trying to make ends meet say: screw it! we are doing it ourselves! Crawford, Tome's boy-wonder, is an integral factor in this collective, both as a founding member and as a player in the Vitamins, a band featured on the comp. Hot Congress is a collective in the truest sense of the word. A non-profit enterprise in which everyone works together to book shows, throw cd release parties, rep each other at any chance and contribute from recording to performing. Hot Congress can also be seen as a musical statement, like No New York in the late seventies, of what is happening in Denver in 2009. Although a certain aesthetic does not prevail, each band could not have reached the level of success that they have found in Denver without a little help from their friends. Or, they probably could. Every track on this comp. is solid. I will write a few sentences about each band featured. But before you go any further, download it here!
Achille Lauro "Cardboard Divas": It doesn't hurt that this bands lead singer sounds like a mix between DM Stith and Yoni Wolf. The one-two punch of the buried organ and staccato guitars are absolutely leveling.
Kissing Party "I Just Want to Get Out of This Body": Rivaling SLC's Sleepover for cutest band name ever, Kissing Party marry the adorable twee sensibilities of the aforementioned twee revivalists and a strong Shoegaze sheen over the guitar and vocals.
Lil Slugger "There's No Id in This City": Whoa, I went to high school with these guys. I was in drummer Justin Couch's first band, and we were called Ill Dorado, and we were as awesome as the band name. Apparently there is a life after high school english project bands. Unhinged squalls of noise brim over mind-tangling time signature changes and start-stop song dynamics. Lil Slugger take cues from some of art rock's most important and enduring weirdos to churn out some impressive noise-pop gems.
Vitamins "Sequined Dress": Definitely the best cut from their 2009 EP "Songs For Stems Cells". Lizzy Allen's ethereal voice floats deftly over a massive back beat (that bass line will destroy you) and swooning guitar neck bending.
Action Packed Thrill Ride "In This River": The opening guitar line sounds like it could be the lead in to a Phil Spector doo-wop mini-orchestra. Instead APTR's own skewed pop sensibilities take this line and turn it into a quasi-ballad, quasi down-tempo indie rock slowburner. Delight.
The Jim Jims "Horny": The name says it all right? Dear Vile Blue Shades, you have some new tourmates and best friends. That synth line straight kills me every time.
The Pseudo Dates: "Songbirds": A woozy slice of blissed out dream pop that gathers steam until its ultimately triumphant release towards the end of the track.
Breakfastes "Ageless": Far and away my favorite track on the compilation. The twin guitar attack and soaring male-female vocals inadvertently throw my fist into the dash of my car as I pound out the massive noise breakdowns to the rolling eyes of my wife.
Ken Arkind "Maggie": An interesting move here. A spoken word track. Interestingly, a spoken word track that doesn't suck. "Maggie" is a hilarious/sad/accusatory/ultimately redeeming poem of a young man's torrid love affair with the City of Angels. I'm talking L.A. Concrete jungle where dreams are made of.
Action Friend: "Aren't You Scrumptious?" Is that a question? Threat? Either way the uncontained noise freakouts that punctuate an otherwise swinging post-jazz, Thrill Jockey-esque instrumental track, are bite-sized morsels of saccharine sweet noise candy. Man, I can really run a food analogy into the ground.
Fissure Mystic: "Young Psychedelic Flowers" A darkly psychedelic tribute to sixties flower child aesthetic filtered through the noise attacks of Sonic Youth. "Peel all your psychedelic skin off" that line will stick with me for years.