There is a strange and almost contradictory type of freedom that comes with the label of pop music. While the title is sometimes thought of as the enemy and opposite of free expression, there are those who take the term as a simple standard of accessibility in their art, a sort of mantra that says “Art is anything that makes people enjoy life more.” In this new age of free media, electronic everything, and D.I.Y ethics becoming more of a necessity than an ethos, pop music has been the favorite vehicle of a large caravan of duos combining programed loops and live instrumentation in order to create a new series of dance music.
Now, in the wake of this mostly New York boy/girl boom, comes New Haven, CT’s own brother sister duo Megan and David Keith and their project Mission 0. The first full length offer from the siblings Keith comes in the form of Bruises on the Map, a ten track spectacle of smart pop structure and electric/trance vibe.
Bruises on the Map acts mostly as a showing of Sister Keith’s vocal ability along with the understated, but extremely well-constructed instrument arrangements of drummer/producer Brother Keith. The album’s tracks act as two sides of the same coin, trading off track to track between 90’s influenced power ballads and trance dance numbers, working as a good ofwhat the duo is capable of. Bruise’s lyrics work mostly to carry the Sister Keith’s melodies and the tunes are best implemented as mood music rather than for hardnosed analysis. Anyone who is a fan of the boy/girl duo movement being populated by Cults, Matt and Kim, Sleigh Bells, or going as far back as The Eurythmics, would be well off adding Bruises on the Map to their collection and checking the duo out when they blow into town.--Anthony Geehan
Friendly People’s debut, self-titled 3-song EP gives a concise taste of a promising young Cambridge, MA-based band. Their jangly indie pop is peppered with hints of Americana, roots rock and folk with vocals that owe a debt to Neil Young. The EP’s clear highlight is its opening track—their namesake song—“Friendly People”. It’s a tremendous, positive track buoyed by a horn section in the bridge which lends a mariachi feel. “A Lot of Work To Do” brings out Harvest-era Neil Young, starting as a plaintive acoustic ditty which builds slowly into a passionate electric number. Closing track, “Branches”, follows the same acoustic-to-electric path. As the song builds, it introduces tribal rhythms that are reminiscent of 80s indie-punk legends, the Volcano Suns. Friendly People are scheduled to record their debut full-length in March. If the Friendly People EP is indicative of what we can expect from this young group’s next batch of tunes it will be a record to keep an eye on later in 2012.--George Dow