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Indie, Noise, Shoegaze… Music

The Soft Pack: Strapped (2012)

Incredulidad

Generalmente, no me gusta ser demasiado extremista en mis planteamientos ni en mis críticas hacia todo lo que tenga que ver con la actividad musical y creativa. No quiero ser absoluto en nada de lo que suelo opinar o reflejar en estas líneas, porque respeto tanto a los músicos y a los creativos en general que pienso que no debo hacer planteamientos absolutos ni generalizadores. O al menos no expresarlos públicamente. Pero he de decir que incredulidad es lo que sentí al escuchar este segundo trabajo de The Soft Pack. Sorpresa en tanto que Strapped viene a ser un disco de transición, eso está claro, de ese grupo surgido quizás de una moda pasajera en la que se mezclaron estilos como el Pop más garajero y el Lo-Fi, hacia una música que… personalmente, no veo a dónde les va a conducir.
El sonido de Strapped es una mezcla incongruente de elementos diversos. Es cierto que retoman algunos elementos de su primer disco, homónimo (Head on ice, Saratoga, Second look, Ray´s mistake, They say…). Pero otros momentos del disco son (y lo digo con pena) infumables: Tallboy, Bobby Brown, Chinatown, Oxford Ave., Everything I know… Han introducido esos saxos horribles que suenan infames, teclados, la producción es cuanto menos discutible…
Salvo si acaso el último corte de Strapped: Captain Ace, un tema de seis minutos en el que dan rienda suelta a cierta improvisación y extensión de la canción rematando con un clímax ciertamente interesante.
Por lo demás, Strapped es un trabajo que o bien les reconducirá a un nuevo estilo o bien les dejará sepultados como un grupo más surgido a mediados de la segunda década de siglo, con muchos bríos que se fueron apagando con el tiempo. Desgraciadamente, me temo que pasará ésto último.

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“Two years in the making, the group’s self-produced follow-up, Strapped, doesn’t stray far from the established course, which is surprising given the record’s gestation period. The band started with 80 rough sketches, 30 of which were completed, put to tape, and then whittled it down again to form the final product. The 12 tunes that made the cut suggest that, after a little bit of self-examination, the Soft Pack found the status quo perfectly palatable.
Rather than rearranging the component parts of their sound, Strapped finds the Soft Pack pursuing a strategy of sonic evolution via additional instrumentation. With its sturdy groove and jangling guitar hooks, “Second Look” could have easily slotted onto their debut. It’s separated from its forebears only by the squawking of a saxophone, which turns up in time for the first chorus. On their debut, the Soft Pack’s songwriting was refreshingly small-scale: A good hook and a heavy drum beat was sufficient fuel to get a song accross the finish line. On Strapped, the additional sonic window dressing– the horns, the synth squiggles, and the wah-wah flourishes– is never offensive, but it does feel superfluous.
But Strapped only really stumbles when the Soft Pack slow down. Lamkin is a fine vocalist, but he doesn’t have much dynamic. He’s either speak-singing in a calm and casual manner or, probably, busy playing guitar. So when the band drops down in intensity, his delivery gets mushy. On “Bobby Brown”, Lamkin shoots for INXS-style grooviness, but comes off precious, rather than sexy. “A menace, a bad thing to be, I’ve seen enough, heard enough, obscenity,”  he sings, on the maudlin “Tallboy”, before demmanding a drink. If the band pushed the BPM a little higher, the song’s pointed spirit self-examination might’ve had more teeth.
The Soft Pack’s experimental turns pan out better when they keep their foot on the gas. On album closer “Captain Ace”, wobbly guitar tones and psychedelic flourishes find harmony with the band’s rythm section, riding a head-bobbing rhythm to an extended outro. Long and lush isn’t a bad look for the Soft Pack, so long as they’re keeping the beat” (pitchfork.com)

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5 febrero, 2013 Posted by | The Soft Pack | Deja un comentario

The Soft Pack: Gagdad (2010)

Otro regalito más para este fin de semana. The Soft Pack, una de las bandas revelación de este 2010, acaban de editar un tema que no aparece en su aclamado álbum homónimo de debut. Se trata de Gagdad, un extenso tema en el que la banda de Lo-Fi-Surf abre un poco sus miras y nos sorprenden con un Pop algo más oscuro y ruidoso, aunque su devoción hacia gentes como Pavement o The Fall sigue estando presente. Puedes encontrar el tema pinchando en el enlace de abajo, en descarga legal gratuita.

The Soft Pack – Gagdad (2010)

“For a band whose lineup has only really been cemented this year, The Soft Pack formley known as The Muslims have already accomplished a breathtaking amount.
From San Diego but now based in Los Angels CA, the 20-something quartet, which features Matt Lamkin on vocals, co-founder Matty McLoughlin on guitar, David Lantzman on bass and Brian Hill on drums, create a fresh, razor-sharp, no-frills sound. Their fiercely infectious, stripped-down songs blew the roof off this year’s CMJ festival where they played 11 shows to increasingly packed-out crowds. Their live shows are sweaty affairs, with a pulse raising rock n roll swagger that the New York Press succinctly described as “no bullshit”.
The Soft Pack cut their teeth on the live circuit earlier this year, with highly charged shows in Southern California and trips to the East Coast with The Walkman, The Howlies and The Vivian Girls. Their untitled self-released debut 12-inch EP was pressed up with one-of-a-kind artwork shot with bullet holes by a father of a friend, a former NYPD. It sold out immediately and is currently being re-pressed with brand new tracks.
A sign that The Soft Pack are on a steadfast roll to greater things, The Breeders, The Last Shadow Puppets & Franz Ferdinand all tapped the band for main support slots, no doubt wowed by classics-in-waiting like “Nightlife”, “Extinction” and “Parasites”
(
rcrdlbl.com)

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1 octubre, 2010 Posted by | The Soft Pack | Deja un comentario

The Soft Pack: The Soft Pack (2010), Heavenly

Nos diréis que suenan como un grupo más de Pop acelerado. Nos diréis que son algo así como los Pavement más poperos. Vale. De acuerdo. Hay algo de razón en ello, pero no me negaréis que The Soft Pack no tienen algo de cool en su propuesta. Son algo así como unos Pavement vitaminados, una mezcla entre The Buzzcocks, Weezer, The Modern Lovers, Iggy Pop, The Vaselines y The Fall grabados con aires Lo-Fi. Lo cierto es que este álbum de debut de los californianos antes conocidos como The Muslims -hubiera tenido mucho morbo que hubieran seguido adelante con ese nombre-, tiene muchos ingredientes para convertirse en uno de los discos de esta primera mitad del año. Canciones tralleras y aceleradas candidatas a convertirse en single en cualquiera de sus primeras escuchas (C´Mon, Down on loving, Parasites, Pull out, Answer to yourself…) Adictivos e incendiarios, el cuarteto de San Francisco factura un sonido pegajoso que es probable que no te quites de encima con demasiada facilidad a poco que les des una oportunidad de oírlos.
“A estas alturas, el pop acelerado en manos de veinteañeros puede tener la misma gracia que un dolor de muelas. Pero también puede indicar que algo bueno va a ocurrir. Pasó con Arctic Monkeys y podría hacerlo con este cuarteto de San Diego, cuyo debú rebosa energía a la vez que revela infinitas escuchas de los Buzzcocks y The Fall por parte de sus miembros. Un debú delicioso, a pesar de la resaca del punk de 1978 que arrastra. La diferencia entre una relectura de lo que ya está más que hecho y crear un disco de peso la marcan las canciones. Y la primera mitad de este álbum es un arsenal de singles con cabeza nuclear. Un disco que, a excepción de Mexico, no da tregua. Lúcido, sin rellenos, directo al grano” (
Rafa Cervera, EP3)
“Some thought it was a copout for San Diego garage-rockers the Muslims to give themselves such a cheekily provocative name– well, coming from four white guys based in a U.S. military outpost, at least– only to recoil in the face of mounting media attention and change it to the more innocuous Soft Pack. But listening to the band’s second album (and first under the new handle) the name-switcheroo scheme now feels appropriately symbolic of the band’s evolving personality: Their two-minute missives still charge ahead with jangle-punk strums, pedal-to-the-floor backbeats, and deadpan vocal delivery, but all that swagger can’t conceal the band’s congenial and increasingly introspective nature.
With the album’s opening track, the Soft Pack become maybe the 10,000th rock band to write a song called “C’mon”, but coming from laconic frontman Matt Lamkin, the song is less about inciting action (note the lack of exclamation point), than an eye-rolling dismissal of the trendspotting and premature hype that consumes (and kills) so many bands: “Don’t have the look, don’t have the name/ Don’t have the walk, don’t want to talk, don’t act the same/ Now your town could be the next big thing.” Now, San Diego isn’t the first city on anyone’s lips when people talk about A&R destinations, but the Soft Pack are probably old enough to have witnessed early-90s scene-leaders Rocket from the Crypt, Drive Like Jehu, and Three Mile Pilot trade up to major labels only to get dropped or disband. And following their own hype-magnet experiences at prior CMJ and SXSW appearances– not to mention a relocation to the music-biz capital of Los Angeles– the Soft Pack now sound more cautious than caustic. Amid the playful call-and-response choruses and locomotive rhythms, we hear sincere declarations of independence (“Answer to Yourself”), rejections of romance (“Down on Loving”), and warnings against material self-indulgence (“More or Less”).
Like the Muslims’ 2008 debut album, The Soft Pack sticks to a 1960s-vintage 10-song/30-minute schematic, but under producer Eli Janney (ex- Girls Against Boys) it effectively opens the garage door to let the fumes out and more fresh air in, favoring melodic, Love-like leads over power chords, and adding acoustic backing tracks for extra bounce and depth. And though Lamkin’s monotone voice is not the most expressive instrument– it barely wavers whether the occasion calls for a Monks-style organ vamp (“Move Along”) or a prom-night embrace (“Mexico”)– each album side gradually ratchets up the tension and releases it through a raucous rave-up (“Pull Out” on side A, “Parasites” on side B) that successfully bridges the Soft Pack’s Nuggets-schooled ethos with the modern-day discord of San Diegan patron saints Hot Snakes. So while the Soft Pack may exhibit more grace and decorum these days, those seething send-off tracks are proof the band has gone soft in name only”
(
pitchfork.com)
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25 febrero, 2010 Posted by | The Soft Pack | 6 comentarios

   

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