Reviews for [RL53]
Giant Peach "Callous & Strange"
GIANT PEACH hail from New York and this appears to be their second 7? to date. The trio originally began as a two-piece of guitarists/ vocalists Frances Chang and Mike Naideau before Dave Shotwell was added on drums in late 2010.
Together this energetic trio take on a heavier grunge rock sound with much more delicate vocals that don’t sound nearly as bold and brash as the instrumentation. You can feel the weight crushing down heavily in “My Love,” which is backed up by the soothing vocals of Chang to lead the way. A song like this just goes to show that they’re employing elements from both ends of the spectrum – namely the grungy guitars and the gentle vocals, which is definitely not your usual combination. These gentle vocals become a bit more clear within “No Fire,” which seems to shy away from the heavy stuff and takes on a much softer, easy flowing rhythm with its twangy guitars. That changes again with the finale “Wild Dogs,” which sees the band through fiery guitar hooks to close out the track. As you listen, it’s hard not to detect a palpable level of optimism, which gives these heavy songs an admirable amount of warmth to build on.
- Modern Vinyl
Armed with an undeniable garage-rock charm, Giant Peach has crafted an enjoyable four song EP with Callous And Strange, recently released onto vinyl by Rok Lok Records. An appealing set of dual vocals anchor the release, buoyed by instrumentals bubbling over with infectious energy. And while some songs could use a bit more polish — and in one instance a proper outro — you’ll still find yourself tapping away to the pop-rock whirlwind that lasts a breezy 15 minutes.
The EP begins with “Almost Dying,” a track that hits the ground running, led by a constant barrage of percussion from drummer David Shotwell. Mike Naideau takes the lead vocals, opening up the record with, “Don’t think twice about breathing/The same water in you will knock you down/And like the still bird lying on the pavement almost dying/The setting sun will look you in the eye.” Naideau has the nonchalant pipes which the indie scene has seemed to popularize, but it’s satisfying, mostly because the lyrics he’s singing are of quality. Frances Chanc, on the other hand, has a beauty of a voice, first displayed in the second track, entitled “My Love.” The riff is overly similar to some tracks I’ve heard over the past year (mostly from TS & The Past Haunts’ “Gone and Goner”), but it manages to become more creative towards the conclusion, tricking you into believing it’s at its end.
“No Fire” slows down the blistering tempo, allowing Chanc to once again shine on the vocals. With very little instrumentation accompanying her, she sings, “Maybe I glamorize — it’s hard to stay suspended between yourself and your mind,” impressing you more and more with each passing word. The downfall of the track, though, comes at the end, or rather, the lack of its end. The song feels like it could be a full 2 minutes longer, but concludes abruptly. “Wild Dogs” finishes out the EP and is the one in particular which I felt could use an extra touch of polish. Multiple layers seem to be present, but it’s tough to distinguish them amongst the low-fi sound. On the positive side, the dual vocals finally come together in one track, with Naideau and Chanc taking turns at the verse.
Sound Quality: As I’ve mentioned before, the sound isn’t top notch, but I did find that there was an improvement from the digital files over to the vinyl. The vocals seemed to be cleaned up a tad, while the entire sound just seems to have a more “full” quality. At points, though, you still find yourself begging for those extra instrumental layers to be revealed. The 7? is pressed on a lighter vinyl, but when comparing digital to vinyl, I still came away impressed with the improvement which I heard coming from my speakers.
Packaging: Unlike some 7? releases I’ve received in the past, I came away truly impressed with how much effort they seemed to put into the packaging. The artwork, done by the band’s own Frances Chanc, has a sketch-book quality, something I found to be very appealing. A lyrics sheet is also included. The real gem, though, came with a hand-printed and individually numbered (and signed) print from the band. It’s already hanging up on my wall if that gives you any indication of its quality. The record itself is on standard black vinyl.
Extras: The record comes with a digital download code.
Summary: With Callous And Strange, Giant Peach has created a 4-track EP that will leave you anticipating just what this band will create next. One hopes that with success, along with extra exposure, will allow them to reach their real potential. Rok Lok Records, with some help from the band, present an interesting vinyl package, which some care obviously went into.
Make Sure To Spin: “No Fire” and “Wild Dogs”
- 7 Inch Blogspot
Mike emailed me the other day about his band, Giant Peach and their new 4 song EP "Callous and Strange" out on Rok Lok and Life on an island Records. I think the 4 track EP is almost the perfect first release for a band, it allows enough room for the longer experimental track or the brief skit, anything is possible on something like this, and if you don't have an idea what the band is about after both sides then it's your fault.
A-Side's first track, "Almost Dying" is pure indie '90s pop complete with those big dinosaur jr style guitar noodlings, real screamy soloing that eventually forms a melody, but really they could go anywhere with this. Great ultra poppy guitar layered sound, landing near the Lilys precise harmonies or even Lync's loose sort of energetic punk. The hyper fills and changes are astounding, pure throwback to the kind of gleeful indie rock of K Recs or KRS stuff that bordered on being cute or tough depending on your mood, but always finding itself on a good mixtape. Jangly warm chords, melodic unaffected vocals, everything clean as day, focused on another clever turn just down the track. A reminiscent Swirlies pop feel. "My Love" find the other half of Giant Peach, Frances Chang on vocals, doubled up and polished, singing abstract lyrics over the more restrained distorted riff melody. Reaching into more of their harmony and carrying those punchy pop changes along with a hint of looser solo guitar. If they woudld bring this together we'd really have a Swirlies situation on our hands, or Rilo Kiley...or Rainer Maria. it's bringing that early indie pop style all back in waves.
B-Side's "No Fire" has Frances sorrowfully belting out a Liz Phair style crooning, breathy, close mic'd track over minimal bent chords and half melody. She's got the quivering vibratto of a naturally gifted voice, well aware of where this needs to go emotionally, the rest of the song fading into the background with a little snare shuffle. The guitar picking up to punctuate the heavier vocal phrases. Keep trying to break hearts. "Wild dogs" is back to the stuttering jangle strum and bookending Mike's first track, there's a great back and forth between them on this one, turning a little bit duet, and by now I want to hear that kind of twee harmony stuff come together over this heavily complicated indie pop. Really this is a single that you would have cut the coupon out and mailed in from Craphound or Beerframe Zine.
Check it out below and order here.
- Suave Citation
Sometimes you hear something that skews all previous opinions you may have had on a genre of music. Takes all your old thoughts out into the alley way and smashes them to pieces with a metaphorical baseball bat. I hear so much garbage today, so I think it is time I get real honest and lay it all on the line. Long Island inide pop band Giant Peach are rearranging and slaughtering my perceptions of what DIY and indie music was. This band is solid lyrically, instrumentally, and their energy is mind blowing.
Their performance on their seven inch Callous and Strange makes it apparent that you are listening to a pretty important moment in contemporary indie pop culture. Two songs per side, this wax is pure fun. It immediately reminds me of bands like Cub, Pavement, and Superchunk, they are gritty and fast while being thorough and precise it’s pretty ear opening.
The trip starts with the track “Almost Dying” which is a tight paced jammer with good lyrics, “the same water in you will knock you down like the still bird lying on the pavement almost dying the setting sun will look you in the eye”. It’s pretty beautiful, at times the vocals sound like Ezra Buchla when he was fronting the Mae Shi, I dig it.
The second track, “My Love” is your classic slower pop punk slammer and follows up the first track well. It has some pretty cool ripping guitar solos in it that break up the pace of the song to keep it interesting. SHRED!!!!
The first track on the b-side, “No Fire” is an introspective work about anxiety and brings the chug of the four-song piece to a much slower speed. It’s nice and sweet and a good beginning to the side. Perfect for the last track “Wild Dogs” to follow. Wild Dogs is a ripper and the cool guitar tones flurry in and out to close this 7inch leaving you wanting more.
Definitely pick this up, the packaging is nice and comes with a limited edition screen print Get your mind blown, indie pop is back, at least in New York!
- Depression Chamber
I’m not sure why it’s taken me so long to write about this really good 7”. Maybe it is because the music contained within is really priceless and very warm sounding to me. Really comforting. I would like to be one with Giant Peach, but I just cannot… I just cannot describe them. One reason for this is because they sound like they snipped every bad ass band that ever existed and turned it into a 7”. I swear, there are Velocity Girl parts, bits of Sterling Silver, a little bit of the Swirlies, some Boyracer; I mean it’s guitar oriented indie rock at an ultimate level. The ability to show musical capability and the ability of not outwearing your influences right on your sleeve (is super important). Does that make sense?
The lyrics and musical energy are definitely a little slurred. Perhaps drunkingly drawled but with that pop punk edge. Mike Naideau and Frances Chang are not sweating cuteness. They are not trying to be cute about “it,” or whatever. They’re not thatdog. (who I absolutely love, but here I am looking through the booklet for “Totally Crushed Out!” and damn, that whole album is pretty cute), they’re the kind of band that can somewhat reflect on their past cuteness. I wouldn’t say they’re sophisticated either, or all grown up. Giant Peach on this record is a band that is halfway done with being that little go getter and almost a full on adult. Maybe Giant Peach is the middle ground, and will always maintain some of that.
It’s not just the lyrics that keep me going in that direction, it is also the music which is an obvious part of the record that makes it just so non-sterile. I feel like they are playing those guitars in a way that purposefully weighs either raw and well done at the same time. I’m actually not sure what I’m trying to say, but things are really fresh sounding even through all the obvious layers of influence. Honestly, the music portion of this 7” seems like it was written for those that are in the know of this kind of music, which I am all for. Those who want to pay attention will eventually end up with this in their music collection.
Really, Giant Peach is not trying to out 90’s the 90’s, or out cute the cutest, or outdo itself as a band. They do not seem like they know how, or want to.
My Love plays in my head while I’m on the bus hoping my bus crush will appear before me, and of course it plays in my head when I’m walking home from the bus stop. Another night without seeing the person that makes me feel like I could one day develop the guts to be a real human being. Thanks Giant Peach, for kind of making this world softer on my brain.
Sorry to you reader, who read through this review where I did nothing really but reflect via the music.
Full color! The sleeve is absolutely beautiful, and the insert is beautiful as well! The lyric sheet is welcomed, because the band has some totally wonderful things to say. A split release between Rok Lok Records and Life on an Island.
- Tuning Into the Obscure
What strikes me right away is how they have two vocalists and they switch up who leads on each song or so. I like that a lot. This is a nice blend of pop, punk, indie folk rock and alt rock. Lyrically, this is not your standard verse-chorus-verse set up. There is little if any repetition in lines; each track serves as a platform for emotional and contemplative dialog. This is highlighted the most on the track, “Wild Dogs” where both vocalists sing a series of different lines that tie into each other but never repeats. This is a fantastic record. I really want to hear more from this band. (5.0 out of 5).
Did I mention there is a hand numbered and autographed piece of artwork in the sleeve? Surprise!
- Get It On Vinyl
Hailing from New York is “Giant Peach.” Somehow this band had slipped under our radar until now but their latest EP has caught our attention, and even though it has been our now for over a year, it deserves yours as well.
So many times a garage rock style band lose their homemade sound when the edge rubs off after landing in the studio. Giant Peach keeps all the rough edges and then some, including missed chords and abrupt awkward endings. While this can and does take away from the songs at points, the homemade sounds keeps it authentic, as if you are sitting on the garage steps just listening to them jam.
While tracks like “Almost Dying” and “My Love” have a great trashy vibe, guitarist and singer Frances Chang has the standout vocals deliveries. Especially in the finest track of the EP, “No Fire,” an emotionally rich song that quickly became our favorite of the EP.
- Cementing the Seams
I wrote a bit about Giant Peach in my 2011 EP roundup post, mentioning how they are totally rad. It's 2012 now and they are still rad, and still delivering excellent short-length releases that sortof make me irritated that they don't release an LP. I'll settle though as long as they can keep killing it on 4-5 tracks every 6 months. I just checked and it turns out I like this band so much I've written about them twice. So, if you haven't followed my advice the last two times, get with the program.
FFO: Pavement, Mary Timony, Livin' Dude