Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Make me armored for the places I've been.

Scourge Of The Sea – Make Me Armored review
4 out of 5

Scourge of the Sea formed in 2004 and is comprised of Justin Craig, Andrew English and Robbie Cosenza. With their debut album, Make Me Armored, they single-handedly inspired the legendary Alias Records (American Music Club, Archers of Loaf, Yo La Tengo, etc) to awake from their slumber and release their first album in a decade.

Make Me Armored was released late last month and has since topped their local independent music stores’ bestseller lists week after week. I don’t know if it’s their modest, but not too precious pop songs, or the fact that they are very cute and charming fellows, but everyone loves to support these guys. The album features 10 finely tuned pop songs ranging from the slightly delicate “Waterwings”, the light and folky “Hookers”, to some harder fare with “Chocolate Chips”. “Chasing Roses” exemplifies English’s best vocal work and is one of the album’s most complex and intriguing songs, alternately hopeful and haunting. The vocal and guitar melodies contained within the song are perfectly complimentary and are so seamless that your ears will be smiling for days after listening to this song.

The songs are all arranged beautifully with complimenting tambourine hits and intriguing keyboard melodies in addition to the traditional drum, bass and guitars. The instrumentation on this album sounds so well put-together and the arrangements just make so much sense that it’s hard to believe these songs haven’t existed for thousands of years already. In addition, the lyrical abilities of these guys are infinite. What really catches my ear and warms my heart is when I hear English sing tender words like “I don’t need to smoke with a fix like you”, “…and I loved your lips on your overbite” or when Cosenza mentions his “waterwings and a cable knit sweater”.

With such striking imagery and coordinating harmonies, Scourge of the Sea may be putting bands like the Fruit Bats out of work.

English and Cosenza alternate writing credits and vocals, each singing lead on their own creations. English tends to take his listeners by the hand and sing in their ears while Cosenza seems as content standing in a corner yelling at the top of his lungs. Cosenza’s songs are not as intimate as English’s but certainly no less heartfelt. Showcasing two such different vocalists adds a layer of significance and versatility to the band as a whole; they aren’t limited one type of vocal. It’s almost as if they can be two bands in one, which only makes listening to them that much more interesting.

Scourge of the Sea - Out of the Trash
Scourge of the Sea - Smitten Kitten

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