Since abdicating a position as music critic at a local daily more than four years ago, I have been so far out of the rock-crit loop that not only am I unfamiliar with many cutting-edge buzz bands, but often I'm in the dark about the bands to which they are compared.
I'm such an old fart that I've never heard a note by the bands Grandaddy and Bright Eyes, but I know they are trendy and well-revered. And those groups are the first two cited in a bio for the Brooklyn band Say Hi to Your Mom. So judging from that, I have no idea what they sound like.
But I am pleasantly surprised to report that Say Hi to Your Mom's second CD, Numbers & Mumbles, which was released just this week, is as refreshing and thoroughly enjoyable an indie-rock album as I have heard since drifting away from the nexus of the rock-critic universe.
And Say Hi to Your Mom is coming our way real quick. Like tonight. The band will play Thursday, Feb. 12, at Plush, as opening act for the cleverly elided Deathray Davies.
The minimalist pop-rock generated by Say Hi impresario Eric Elbogen, a California expat who relocated to New York City about four years ago, will no doubt engender many comparisons but is wholly original.
For shorthand's sake, we can say that Elbogen combines the wistful melancholy of Belle and Sebastian with the churning electric tangle of countless post-punk bands that probably influences currently hot groups such as Interpol and The Strokes. Add a dollop of burbling synth pop, a la Gary Numan (no kidding), and you've got a winning recipe.
Numbers & Mumbles is so good, I have a hard time getting through the album in one straight shot. I keep repeating the opening one-two punch of songs "Pop Music of the Future" and "A Hit in Sweden," two archly self-conscious tunes about, respectively, a trendy scenester and the capricious nature of dance-floor politics.
"Pop Music of the Future" cannily sets the tone for the record, gently building tension but never quite reaching a crescendo--maybe that's why you have to play it over and over again.
Then when you reach the fifth cut, "Let's Talk About Spaceships," the buzzing guitars and bleeping synthesizers will cause you to hit the repeat button more than once. Same goes for the snide "Your Brains vs. My Tractorbeam." But don't stay with that track too long, for an inspired cover of the Beatles' "I'm So Tired" follows.
Let's hope Say Hi to Your Mom provides as good a time live as they do on disc.