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Review: Eastern Phoebes- Wampum by jason
April 6, 2011, 9:00 am
Filed under: Review | Tags: ,

Eastern Phoebes-Wampum. Self-Released, 2011.

When I hear music described as Twee, I assume two things: that it’s going to sound like Belle & Sebastian or Camera Obscura, and that I’m going to like it. When Eastern Phoebes sent us a heads up to their music, they rightfully described themselves as a “twee duo.” However, while they do sound a bit like my Twee benchmarks, they also find many points of divergence.

While bands like B&S and Camera Obscura have this kind of timeless sound, Eastern Phoebes, on their album Wampum, spends half of the album sounding like what would happen if Beach House recorded with the Elephant 6 Collective, making a kind of dreamy pop recorded by folksy musicians with pianos and accordions. This is especially true in the title track, “John Boyle Island (Wampum)” and in “Worthless People.” At other times, they achieve an “old timey” sound that kind of reminds me of the Beatles’ “Martha My Dear.” It’s slightly anachronistic, but it still has a kind of modern sensibility, a fact that is obvious with all of the F-Bombs dropped in “Plum Island Protest Song” and “The Clammer.”

According to their website, the entire album was recorded by Ry Smith and Meg Bailey in a month as part of the RPM challenge, the musical equivalent of NaNoWriMo. This is surprising because it does not sound like it was hastily put together by two people. The whole thing has a very deliberate, very laid back tone that I can’t imagine creating under duress without a full band.

Overall, this is a great album by a couple of people who are passionate about making their own music with a DIY attitude, but without the DIY sound. This is about as indie as it gets. The entire album, plus extra tracks, can be downloaded for free on their website. And really, there’s no reason you shouldn’t be downloading this, unless that reason is that you’ve already downloaded it and are listening to it right now.



1 Comment so far
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Excellent write up jason. I’ve had this record in constant rotation for a month. Hands down one of the best albums i’ve heard in a long long time.

Comment by colen lococo

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