North Elementary

North Elementary

North Elementary

Berandals

Pox World Empire

North Elementary’s 2007 e.p. Berandals probably sounds like something you’ve heard before. The Flaming Lips and Mercury Rev may come to mind right away, or maybe Jesse Malin or even Orange Juice. And like the aforementioned bands, North Elementary manages to bury some really sweet pop hooks beneath layered indie rock guitars and spacey noise. Sometimes it works. “Your Lights Are Turning” would probably float off into pop music heaven if it wasn’t for John Harrison’s punk-inspired vocals. But he lays it on a little too thick on “Unplug The Girl.” An otherwise good pop song ends up sounding forced and kind of silly.

I find “Concept of My Ghost (Japanese Honor)” to be the most interesting track in the group, inspiring visions of 2001: A Space Odyssey or Tarkovsky’s Solaris. But besides this final 20-minute journey through outer space, Berandals doesn’t really contain anything different. I spent a lot of time just trying to pinpoint all the other songs these seven tracks remind me of. They’re all good, but in most cases, they don’t feel very original.

On a side note, a few bars in “Unplug the Girl” remind me of the theme from Twin Peaks. That’s always good for some bonus points.

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