20 Watts


Emerging Artists Week 5: High Places by 20watts
March 19, 2008, 12:17 am
Filed under: Emerging Artists | Tags: ,

It’s not often you stumble on a band’s Myspace page listing this combination of genres: Hawaiian, Hardcore, and Chinese pop. When I saw these three headings for Brooklyn’s High Places, I thought their music might be a joke. Luckily, it’s not.

High Places’ blend of pop, psychedelic, and distorted sounds may seem like a confusing combination, but it ends up working. Mary Pearson and Robert Barber are the talents behind the lo-fi band. In a live performance and interview on Videothing.com, Barber says someone described High Places’ music as “every national anthem going off at the same time in a bucket of water.” So it seems even the band has a hard time pinpointing their musical genre.
But a growing fanbase is testament to the fact that their music is something worth listening to. Pearson’s soft and airy vocals combine with Barber’s dabbling in percussion, samples, and electronics. Their offbeat style is best reflected in “Head Spins,” a song made up of a bunch of bleeps, rattles, and Pearson’s evocative, echoing lyrics. It’s easy listening, but not in the cheesy commercial radio sort of way.
“New Grace” also lives up to the band’s “Hawaiian” genre, as it opens with a beat that would provide the perfect soundtrack for an island celebration.
Right now, owning hard copies of High Places’ music is a little difficult. The band has released songs on some 7″ compilations and is anticipating the release of a split 7″ with Xiu Xiu. Also, according to their Myspace page, High Places are working on a full-length album. But if you want their music now, it’s only widely available in digital format. You can download 10 songs they recorded in 2007 at Emusic.
High Places are going places. This spring, they are playing shows with the popular experimental rock groups Gang Gang Dance and Deerhoof.
– Christina
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