Sounds like: Airy, ambient synth-pop with a melancholy twist.
For an indie band that claims to be driven by the “restless, symphonic power of music,” Engineers have had a good year. Since the release of their self-titled debut album in March, they’ve traveled ‘round their native England and trekked across the United States with fellow Brits Bloc Party and Charlatans. Their trance-inducing tracks hum with layers of spacy, floating riffs and tambourine shakes, balanced out by the soothing vocal stylings of Simon Phipps and Mark Peters. According to keyboardist Dan McBean’s words on engineersweb.net, the trippy ambience is anything but accidental. “We want to turn the lights down, get stoned and then blow our heads off. We just want to please ourselves,” McBean pontificates. Somehow, though, this self-gratification translates into a universal application. “Engineers” fits effortlessly as comforting background music for almost anything - driving, writing, dozing off, cleaning house or breaking up with someone, leaving an open-ended melodic bliss that reflects track five’s ameliorating offering of “Let’s just see how far this will go.”
Nine Inch Nails
Sounds like: Every other Nine Inch Nails album ever made.
You’ve got to hand it to Trent Reznor. His bleeding heart, pseudo-goth schtick suits him well, and he’s been pulling it off for years. “With Teeth” delivers a heaping carbon-copy of NIN’s driving electronic rock with a predictable helping of angsty lyrics, like “I think I used to have a voice/Now I never make a sound/I just do what I’ve been told/I don’t really want them to come around.” So angsty, in fact, they’re starting to not become a frontman who’s already in his forties.
Nine Inch Nails fans of yore will nod their heads in time with Reznor’s “woe-is-me” song themes while everyone else will continue not identifying with the plight of tortured, trench coat-sporting and eyeliner-bedecked twenty-somethings everywhere who’ve been with NIN since “Pretty Hate Machine.” In short, indulge if you can’t resist Reznor’s dark electronic self-hatred, but don’t play this while drinking wine indoors on a first date - unless of course your date is a total masochist.
Sounds like: Happy outdoorsy tunes to tap your toes to.
According to its website, Philadelphia-based Dr. Dog’s greatest interests are three-part harmonies, “the out-of-doors,” hoagies, vegetables and diminished chords. Save the hoagies and vegetables, all of these come across on “Easy Beat,” their third release since the late 1990s. Their garage band-esque sound reverberates pleasantly with harmony and diminished chords, and the airy melodies reflect the carefree, wide open spaces the band’s blog describes: “June 21, 2005. We saw My Morning Jacket, who were incredible as always. Beyond that, we just ate some tasty foods in the tent and then got really tired. We slept that night at Juston’s dad’s North Carolina mountain home, stretched out on the raw pine boards above the sound of the rushing water in the stream below. The end.”
Eccentricity is also a key Dr. Dog accessory. Press junkets at the most recent SXSW festival in Austin, TX, captured a slew of snaps of guitarist/vocalist Scott McMicken thrashing in a shaggy, face-obscuring haircut and a pair of those ‘80s-tastic dollar store shades with hot pink sides. Luckily, eccentricity suits this lot, driving songs like “Easy Beat” and “The World May Never Know” down the head-bopping road to success.