EP: PHOENIX AND THE TURTLE – Swallow Up The Moon (Fluttery 2010)

First up, I’ve a ton of stuff to listen to. If you’ve sent something, it all gets heard eventually.

Phoenix and the Turtle are a Californian quartet who’ve been around since 2003. They trade in a kind of literate indie that sounds like it comes from some place between the National (and sister group Clogs) and Piano Magic. Line Drive, the six minute opener to Swallow Up The Moon kicks off with a glorious violin and guitar prelude before panning out into a multi-faceted piano led song that features the distinctive voices of Cahn Curtis and Valerie Ferguson (who for some reason reminds me of the Triffids’ Jill Birt).

Ferguson’s piano arpeggios feature heavily throughout the EP, giving the band a distinctive, busy sound, but one that never feels cluttered. 514 is a fairly high tempo romp, whereas Stuart Drives a Comfortable Car wears its alt-country influences proudly, without adopting the genre’s clichés. It’s one of those songs that reminds me of somebody else, but for the life of me I can’t think of who. Wasted Days is probably the least distinctive track, but perfectly listenable.

In the press release, the band state that they feel that this is the easily the best thing they’ve ever done. While envelopes aren’t pushed, the songs are strong and sidestep the verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge-chorus clichés with ease. Swallow Up The Moon is one of those rarest of beasts – a traditionally song-centred collection that doesn’t seek to break ground and yet still sounds fresh and distinctive.

Tracks:
1 Line Drive 6:29
2 514 4:22
3 Stuart Drives A Comfortable Car 6:26
4 Wasted Days 3:30

Websites:
flutteryrecords.com
www.myspace.com/phoenixandtheturtle

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