by the Pains of Being Pure at Heart
You can get away with a lot more by playing innocent than by shoving it in everyone's face. So here's a bubbly, sunshiny basement-guitar-pop song about anonymous sex in a public library, presumably between two pencil-neck horndogs who still carry lunch boxes well into their 20s: "We came, they went, our bodies spent/Among the dust and the microfiche." There isn't a single off beat here: straight four down the line, everything post-Velvets by way of mid-'80s UK indie jangle, the breakdown-not-bridge the same music as the rest of the song only with the guitars louder, then gone, then rising back up, ready for more, only to be greeted with a chanted "Don't check me out." On paper, this sounds insufferably coy. In aural fact, I never play it once without playing it again at least twice more. Like rapping, it's nowhere near as easy as it looks to do this kind of thing right.
by Cause Co-Motion!
If the Pains of Being Pure at Heart infuse their dink-indie with big hooks, Cause Co-Motion! are content to keep everything short and sharp. Really short: six songs, 10 minutes. Everything about it whizzes by, jagged and flat; you can concentrate, but you're better off just letting it pelt you, like toy-pistol caps being thrown from five feet away. (Or maybe I'm just confusing the overall effect with how the cymbals sound.) The singer, Arno—of course there aren't any last names with them—sounds like Joey Ramone with a much smaller throat, and in another smiling nod to bite-size tradition (see also Elvis Costello's "Almost Blue"), they title one of the songs "It's Time," after the album that preceded this EP.
by Crystal Stilts
Another Slumberland group keep up their catchy primitive reverb stomp, leading off this live-in-studio web freebie with two songs more immediately propulsive and memorable (to my ears) than anything they've yet recorded. Both "Through the Floor" and "Sycamore Tree" sound like something overheard at a prom in the Munsters mansion: basic tremolo rockabilly riffs, kick-and-snare an 8-year-old could get down to, a singer who seems to mistake every vowel for "O" and about half the consonants, too. These versions of "Shattered Shine" and "The Dazzled" from the band's debut don't improve the originals much, but I did mention this was free, right?
The Pains of Being Pure at Heart play the Capitol Hill Block Party on July 25.