Bombay Bicycle Club
“So Long, See You Tomorrow”
Turns out London’s Bombay Bicycle Club doesn’t want to be a rock band after all.
That’s OK. Lots of great bands get good at one thing, and then try another, and then you never hear from them again.
Those bands don’t have the songwriting chops of Bombay leader Jack Steadman. He has long slipped synths, loops and samples into his songs. But, this time, he builds the songs around them.
And he’s not always writing to please. Sometimes he just wants you to stop and listen.
“Whenever, Wherever” begins like the typical sensitive indie-rock piano ballad, and then, wham. Out come the layered vocals, the loops, the clashing guitars and drums.
It ain’t Bright Eyes.
“Carry Me” doesn’t even ease into it. The harsh synths start banging right away, with dizzying loops that sound like a skipping CD.
“I won’t change / You know that,” Steadman bleats.
That’s not to say there aren’t plenty of lovely moments in the new set. Even in “Carry Me,” Steadman’s repeated words and his vocals blended with several female singers can be mesmerizing.
And the first single, “Luna,” is clubby and fun, while “Eyes Off You,” is all trippy vocals and swirling drums.
“Mirrors The Sky”
Recording solo as WALL, Lyla Foy created delicate little songs on the computer in her bedroom.
Some of those tiny songs, including a cover of Karen Dalton’s “Something on Your Mind,” were interesting little gems and got her noticed in her native England.
With the 25-year-old’s debut under her own name, she fronts a band and it’s just what she’s needed to fill out her soaring gossamer voice.
The band subtly adds keyboards, bass, drums and electric guitars, and a clarinet floats in on a couple of tracks. But nothing gets in the way of Foy’s voice, which shifts from live to loops, and her lyrics about first love and holding love together.
“Hold that feather tongue / Don’t make a scene” she pleads with a lover who needs a little tightening up.
On pop rockers like “Impossible” and the electro throb of “I Only,” Foy has clearly spent some time with her parents’ old Kate Bush and Fleetwood Mac records. And, the guitars on the dreamy “Someday” veer into the goth of bands like Warpaint.
The slow, dreary tone eventually gets tiresome, and it will be interesting to see how Foy develops as a bandleader. But for now, her clear, fragile voice is enough to carry a project.
Run River North
Nettwerk Music Group
If you’re jumping into folk-rock now — with Mumford and Sons, the Lumineers and Edward Sharp and Magnetic Zeroes already wearing out their welcome — you better have something special.
Being six Korean-Americans from the same Los Angeles church doesn’t hurt.
The band’s self-produced video also went viral enough to land them a spot on “Jimmy Kimmel Live.” And Phil Ek produced their debut album. He’s the one who put the pop shine to bands like The Shins, Fleet Foxes and Built to Spill.
You can hear it in the first single, “Monsters Calling Home,” which could pass for anything from any one of those bands.
And, that’s the only criticism, although it’s hardly a condemnation. It’s just that Run River North, with its ringing guitars, rousing her-and-him harmonies and swelling strings, sounds numbingly familiar.
Too bad. Had they broken out three years ago, everyone would be chasing them instead.