It has definitely been a while since I sat down to do a CD review. I sort of blame it on the fact that I simply was off the whole summer, and therefore, didn’t spend a whole lot of time in front of the computer reviewing. However, for anyone who maybe was missing me, you’ll be very happy to know that I returned to work this week. Therefore, I have had a whole lot more time to listen to music at random and consider what I wanted to say about the album. So if anybody missed my terribly insightful take on new music: I’m back!
Anyway, I discovered Givers randomly one night when my wife was on her trip to Canada. I was sitting in front of the T.V. late at night and found that Matt Pinfield actually still has a show where he talks about music on T.V. Did anyone actually realize he was still around? I figured maybe he was on satellite radio or something. Anyway, he has this show that is on really late at night called 120 minutes where he talks about bands and shows some cool videos. One band I had never heard of was this band. I was immediately very interested in looking into them more.
Unlike when I reviewed The Head and the Heart, I think this band is definitely pretty new on the scene. Head and the Heart had already done some really big tours despite still being quite new. From what I have been able to find, Givers have opened for Ra Ra Riot and Dirty Projectors. Therefore, I still think you can call them pretty underground. I’m not sure how long you will be able to say that though.
The members of Givers met in high school and college down in Louisiana. They previously played in some different zydeco bands before coming together to form this group. I have had very limited experiences with zydeco, but I am slightly familiar with the music due to some amazing friends down in New Orleans exposing me to some. I can also tell you that Givers have maybe a slight zydeco influence to their sound; however, it is by no means zydeco music. Givers was signed by the once indie record label Glassnote Music in February. There they joined the ranks of Mumford and Sons, Phoenix, and Two Door Cinema Club. Obviously you can see why I would feel the need to refer to the label as once indie.
One thing that can be certainly said about Givers’ sound is that they are not a downer band. As the title of the first song, “Up, Up, Up”, suggests, they are definitely very positive and up beat. I would like to think they rival Matt and Kim for their positive and fun sound; however, having been to a Matt and Kim show, I’m sure that can’t be the case. “Up, Up, Up” is the first single off the album and clearly their most friendly radio single. Although none of the album comes off as radio unfriendly, this first song has some strange catchy factor that is hard to ignore. It’s the song that Matt Pinfield used to hook me. This song helps to set up the trifecta of vocals of ,Tiffany Lamson, Taylor Guarisco, Kirby Campbell, who do share the responsibility throughout most of the record. At times, like the chorus here, they come together to form some nice sounding and very singable moments.
You can definitely hear the influence of The Dirty Projectors as you listen through the remainder of the songs on the album. The Projectors have pretty much perfected the use of the harmonizing in songs, and these guys are not shying away from using it either. “Noche Nada” is an excellent example of using harmony to create a thick and robust sound. Two of the different vocals continue to harmonize while the third set of vocals ignores the lyrics all together and simply adds to the harmony. All they need is another girl or two to simply make sounds for harmony effect and they’ll have captured what the Projectors do so well.
Givers also have a tendency to come across almost sounding like the kid brother to Vampire Weekend. They have that Afro-pop sound that a lot of people have found pretty infectious when it comes to Vampire Weekend. A great example of this is the song “Ceiling of Plankton”. The song starts with that light and poppy sounding guitar hook. It is joined by the drums and bass, but it really is the unharmonized vocals here that add to that Vampire Weekend sound. They definitely put their own spin on the style; however, it’s one of those things where you wouldn’t be surprised if it was released as a b-side by Vampire Weekend at some point.
The music is a little drum heavy overall. This could be due to the fact that they not only have a drummer but also a percussionist. This isn’t to say that the other instruments don’t come through either though. One member of the band, Nick Stephan, plays the flute, sax, and keyboard on the album. They definitely don’t waste his talents either. Though out the album you notice the influence in different places. I personally find it to be one of those things where you hear a little something you never realized was in the mix before. It adds a lot of depth to the band’s sound.
Overall, I was really happy to discover this band. They may have a lot of current influences, but I think they do a good job of putting their own spin on things. If you’re looking for a band to just have fun with, definitely give this one a shot. They are definitely having a good time putting out music that is of a high quality. You may want to jump on them soon. Like I said, I did discover them during a rare moment that MTV actually showed music. Now go and watch the video that hooked me!
Teacher Rating: B