Saddle Creek | Now It's Overhead | Reviews


Now It's Overhead

Author: Jeff
10/01/2001 | Delusions of Adequacy | | Album Review
Saddle Creek's first non-Nebraska release is from Atlanta, although it remains somewhat in the family. Now It's Overhead frontman Andy LeMaster has played on each of the Bright Eyes albums and toured with that seminal Saddle-Creek band, so it seems fitting. Still, this isn't exactly what you'd expect from Saddle Creek, and it demonstrates the label's diversity.
Now It's Overhead is plainly pop with almost a southern folky bent. However, that feeling comes more from the song structures than the music itself, which is a combination of early 90's alternative pop and more dreamy, keyboard-laden sounds. Think REM and Depeche Mode taking a more indie bent, and you might get the slightest glimpse of this unique work.
The first thing that I had to get used to is LeMaster's vocals. They sound like a deep female's vocals, and it wasn't until reading the band bio carefully that I realized it was a male voice. Female vocals from Orenda Fink and Maria Taylor are used for nice harmonies throughout, however. With two members credited on keyboards, it's not surprising that they're a key element to the music here, but they're not overwhelming in a 80's pop sense, rather providing a deep, symphonic sound.
The keyboards on the opener, "Blackout Curtain" sound slightly accordion-like, which is a really neat sound, and the airy vocals, especially during the chorus, compliment the booming drums quite nicely. "Who's Jon" is similarly unique, based around the vocals and a somewhat chilling guitar and keyboard line that repeats throughout and lends the song a quiet, clinical feel. It may just be the opener to "Hold Your Spin," where it reminds me of the opening to Sesame Street (honestly) that makes me dislike this boppy, poppy song, but it also feels out of place on this album. Things get back on course with the oddly intense and moody "6th Grade Roller," made more moody by the soft violins, and the march-like drumbeats of "Wonderful Scar" make an interesting accompaniment to the softer keyboards. When I thought there was a female vocalist, "With a Subtle Look" reminded me quite a bit of new PJ Harvey (and it still does). My favorite track is the dreamy, textured "A Skeleton on Display," which has the nicest mix of piano and thick keyboard atmosphere, as well as a great drum beat and soft guitars. Here, the vocals work perfectly.
It's hard to be sure how I feel about this release. On one hand, it's impeccably crafted, and the production is perfect. It's a rich, lush, poppy album that's definitely unique, and that goes a long way in my book. On the other hand, the vocals are a bit disconcerting, and the tone here is unclear, somewhere between cold and poppy. It's certainly an interesting album with some fine craftsmanship, and Saddle Creek fans won't be disappointed.


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