Well, whadya know? Two of this year's Best New Bands
—The Builders and the Butchers and Loch Lomond—like each other so darn much that they recorded a split 12-inch together last fall. Which makes it pretty easy for us to give you, dear LocalCut readers, a Best New Band Cut of the Day Twofer. Lucky you!
First off, we've got Loch Lomond's Ritchie Young, sounding effeminate as ever (and channeling Sir Sufjan a bit) while leading his choral chamber-folk outfit in a strength-in-numbers refrain: "I am the world's loudest instrument," they sing en masse—more than driving the statement home by song's end. But this tune's fully dynamic (not just loud), as well, building in waves only to drop back to a hushed and sparse arrangement after each explosion of gentle-yet-powerful voices. Timpani-sounding echoes, swooning strings and light, high piano notes add depth and delicacy, respectively, to the whole ordeal. And you're ultimately left with an image of Young loftily drifting atop a white, fluffy cloud, surrounded by heavenly voices pouring from Rocky Horror
-esque floating mouths while winged instruments accompany like little sonic angels. Or maybe that's just me.
For the Butchers' part, they couldn't stop gushing about the talent pool that is Loch Lomond at our recent Best New Band-related interview. Says drummer Ray Rude (of both Loch Lomond and Nick Jaina and his band): "They're really
good. I'm just in awe." Frontman Ryan Sollee adds, "If there's anybody who plays guitar, they're better than me, [even] in the bar here. [laughs] So it's really intimidating when you play with Ritchie [Young] or Nick [Jaina] or any of those guys." That said, it doesn't seem like the Builders are hurting as far as good impressions go (um, they are
this year's Best New Band, after all). And it's not hard to see why listening to a bombastic track like 'When It Rains."
The song starts out with simple acoustic strumming and a few cricketlike castanet claps. It builds slowing for the first minute or so, adding drums and bright high-pitched string chirps bit by bit. Then—seemingly out of nowhere—"When It Rains" bursts, like an honest-to-god clap of thunder, into an explosion of Mariachi-sounding trumpet and lightning-fast percussion. It's totally rad, and when the song breaks, only slightly, back down for Sollee's impassioned verses about the "wicked old weight of the world" and the "highest tide"—well, you might as well consider it a proper rain dance, beckoning rain, thunder and all-out flood.
And if there's one thing you can count on the Builders for, it's bringing the storm—and they sound anything but intimidated while doing it. As Rude reassured Sollee of his self-perceived guitar-playing shortcomings, "It's really important not to get psyched out. What we do is what we do. You can't second guess yourself; then you're not doing anything anymore." And, boy, would that be a shame.
The Builders and the Butchers and Loch Lomond both play this year's Best New Band showcase, Saturday, May 10, at Berbati's Pan. 9 pm. FREE! 21+.
WW's Best New Band 2008 cover story