Feathers Synchromy

[Home Tapes; 2006]

Rating: 3.5/5

Styles: post-rock, instrumental pop, psych pop
Others: High Llamas, Free Design, Tortoise, Broadcast

In the '90s, post-rock bands tweaked the adage about talent-borrowing and genius-stealing — they posited real genius as knowing which houses on the block were worth ransacking and which ones had already been picked clean. Many of the decade's most "progressive" rock albums were the ones that filched from the most unusual suspects: Stereolab looted the stores of obscure French pop and Tropicalia, Bark Psychosis snatched glimmering guitar notes from Durutti Column, Ui unapologetically pillaged Liquid Liquid's back catalogue, and pretty much everyone ripped off a krautrock band or six. In dragging the lake for forgotten musicians in need of a good recontextualizing, though, this generation of bands made it difficult for up-and-coming groups to perform similar feats. Post-rock's impetus was conscious innovation, and once assimilating This Heat, John Fahey, and Neu! into single songs became an indie norm, bands couldn't continue to make referential art rock without being pegged as trend-followers, even if they really were channeling the old stuff.

So it's hard to get jazzed about Feathers. We've suffered through too many High Llamas knock-offs at the local club for the vintage organs and baroque string arrangements in "Mint Cairo" to rush down our necks like a breath of fresh air, and sweet Jebus have we heard the motorik "Moonshake"/"Hallo Gallo" pulse that courses through "ApParenthe)Synthesis" from an innumerable army of Oneida clones. It doesn't matter if these three dudes grew up dancing in their dins to The Free Design every morning after Sesame Street — pulling that influence into a referential instrumental rock song, even a competent one, just isn't enough to stave off our encroaching sense of "been there, heard that, bought the reissue." And hell, even their name tempts déjà vu, as a collective of shit-hot Vermont folkies have the same moniker.

No worries, though — Feathers' music stretches beyond the novelty question. Or maybe this EP avoids that issue altogether: where the Tortoises of the world have their fun pulling off unlikely juxtapositions and monkeying with convention, Feathers get their kicks in fleeting, vibrant bursts. Ripping, jarring guitar interjections, gameshow vibraphone fills, and joyfully extraneous synth gurgles are where the party happens in this record. Rather than graph their influences into a Statement, Feathers champion in-the-moment pleasure. These fellows understand how to deal in effluvia and transmit energy so well that they could probably produce a hip-hop record, and not just within the indie ghetto either. Synchromy teems with the unbounded exuberance at which the group's debut, last year's Absolute Noon, hinted. Don't worry who did what first or better — indulge in some pop music for a change.

{ 1. Skara Brain
2. Tone Poem
3. Iron Mountain
4. Ap(Parenthe)Synthesis
5. Mint Cairo