(Park the Van)
Trust, the second release from Generationals, carries considerably more weight than the typical EP bridge. Arriving months in advance of sophomore album Actor-Caster, the record is actually the New Orleans pop trio's latest recording, conceived in the summertime after tracking for the LP wrapped and captured in Austin, Texas, with producer/engineer Bill Baird (Sound Team). It's also the only document of a band that no longer exists. Singer/drummer Tess Brunet, who joined the group following the June 2009 release of debut Con Law and gets cowriting credit on all four Trust songs, left it this fall, part of a second live band makeover in as many years. Perhaps the new lineup, premiering Jan. 14 at the Blue Nile and featuring two labelmates switching teams (keyboardist Michael Libramento of Floating Action and bassist Juston Stens, formerly of Dr. Dog), will be the one in which Ted Joyner and Grant Widmer's compositional skills meet their concert match. For as Con Law suggested and this misstep-proof mini opus proves, there are no finer pop songwriters in the city right now than the former Eames Era guitarists. Not many new bands can afford to banish surefire singles to an afterthought EP. Trust claims three. Once opener "Say For Certain" breaks the ice with sputtering electronics and a bell-jingling wordless chorus; it's an avalanche of bass melody and good vibes. Each track is headlined by a smile-cracking backbone or fluttering heartbeat, with the singers taking turns on the mic. "Carrying the Torch" is Widmer brightening "Faces in the Dark," his ringing Smiths synths raining down on puddle-jumping bass. "Victim of Trap" boasts two bass leads, pulsating and oscillating as Joyner sings the platter's stickiest lyric ("Beyond the ones who take it outside/ We are the ones who skate with our lives"). The badge-wearing title track wages guitar-pop war, its minefield of bass eighth notes bombarded by an anthemic, electric air raid. Widmer's sneak attack: fitting a four-note hook into the syllables of the name "Olivia." Now they're just showing off..
Chameleons of New Orleans' budding rock ecosystem, Sun Hotel has, at turns, colored itself in My Morning Jacket's early reverb-spooked country, M. Ward's late eight-cylinder electrified folk and Fleet Foxes' hip/hippie church-group gospel. Debut LP Coast caps off a series of six EPs and singles in the past 18 months, during which time the band has expanded its repertoire, developing from an anonymous acoustic dorm-room duo to a confident, fleshed-out quintet with the addition of multi-instrumentalist Ross Farbe (Native America). It sounds bigger too; even a trinket like "You (Shake)," which begins as an inauspicious guy-with-a-guitar ballad, evolves in the final minute into a handholding group-vocal free for all. The heightened dramatic scale is drawn immediately on opener "Palms," which manages in five-and-a-half minutes of heaves and sighs to feel both introductory and epic. Its flow directly into the Death Cab-hailing "Oikos" is a recurring motif of the record, songs often piecing together like a puzzle. A-side closer "Loose Woman" lingers just long enough to feed the four-part harmonies that lead off B-side opener "Rediscovery," and the eerie outro to the penultimate Southern-Gothic blues "Voodoo You" bleeds across track lines to become the intro to final incantation "Book God." But for all the unrushed atmospherics, Coast's best moment is its briefest: "Egyptian Cotton," whose thousand threads converge in just three minutes and whose howling falsetto hook — an octave-hopping, lyric-dropping "Ah-ah/ Ooh-ooh/ Ah-ah" — never wears out its welcome.