Lately I’ve been having a difficult time being able to contain my excitement about some of the new local albums that have been making their way into my ears. So it’s time to share that excitement because I’ve got three bands and three fantastic new albums to tell you about, and they’re all killing me in such great ways. Say hello to Forget, Forget, SnugHouse and Builder of the House. Between two full-length albums and one EP, these three bands have released 24 new songs, and two of the bands have upcoming album release shows you can go to in the coming weeks. From synth-pop to folk, these three bands are crushing it, and it’s been a sonic blast playing musical hopscotch with the 24 songs. At times, I’ve wanted to dance (I’m looking at you, Forget, Forget), and at other times I almost lost it and broke down at my desk from the gorgeous harmonies in my ears (oh, SnugHouse, you complete me). As for Builder of the House, I continue to feel all the things when I listen to and watch the video for “Look at the Man.” For such a small state, we’ve got a tremendous amount of talent.
ALBUM: “You’re Not Gone” MEMBERS: Tyler Devos (guitar, vocals) and Patia Maule (synths, vocals, programming)
DISCOGRAPHY: “We Are All” (2013) and “You’re Not Gone” (2017)
UPCOMING SHOW: CD release show at Empire on Sept. 8. portlandempire.com
NOTES: Forget, Forget used to be a seven-piece band but has stripped down to a duo. “We found our sound in warm, analog synthesizers and found our album’s joie de vivre in appreciating the fact that we could still be Forget, Forget,” said Devos. Their sound is synth-pop perfection that gives me the ’80s “feels” without sounding retro. Both members have terrific voices, and you’d never know it was only two people creating such a full sound. “Year of Transition” is melancholy yet hopeful, “Seashells” is a five-minute neon dance party and “City,” the album’s opening track, pulls you in to hug it out and then asks you to dance. Remember this as you think about local music: Forget, Forget has struck gold with “You’re Not Gone,” and once you hear it, you’ll keep coming back for more.
ALBUM: Self-titled EP
MEMBERS: Nikhil Dasgupta (guitar, piano, lead vocals), Tom Peabody (keys, saxophone, vocals), Oriana Farnham (vocals) and Alex Millan (bass, vocals) DISCOGRAPHY: 2017 EP
UPCOMING SHOW: Look for some shows by the end of September
NOTES: If there’s one thing that destroys every fiber of me being, it’s harmonies. So I’d like to thank SnugHouse for reducing me to a pile of bones over the past few weeks as I’ve listened to their debut EP. Incredibly, the four members of SnugHouse just started playing together in December, though they already knew one another through college or mutual friends. Their first shows happened in February and March, and the EP was born at the end of July. “Our original intention with this EP was to capture what we do live, since around April we had become really happy with how our songs and arrangements were coming to life on stage,” said Dasgupta. As for the band name, it’s taken from the East End bar The Snug. The first song on the EP is “I Couldn’t Be,” and the first line is “I’m beginning to understand just what’s at stake/With each breath I take, every word I speak to you,” and I can barely make it through it without welling up because the vocals are a thing of pure emotional beauty. The EP closes out with “Brunswick,” which opens with a soft piano before Dasgupta starts singing about spilled secrets and promises, and then Farnham gently responds or, rather, pleads, “There are whispers, there are signs/There’s so much you might hear, if you just close your eyes.” Then four voices converge and the box you into a corner of beautiful sadness with exquisite vocals in a song I wish I could play for the entire planet. OK, wait, full disclosure, I’ve been playing it on my Music from 207 local music show on WCLZ and will continue to do so indefinitely. They’re that good.
Here’s a live performance by SnugHouse of the song “Settled for Less”
MEMBERS: Rob Cimitle and Elliot Heeschen
DISCOGRAPHY: “I Am a Tidal Wave” (2012), “Hourglass”(2015) and “Ornaments” (2017)
UPCOMING SHOW: Album Release show with Pretty Sad on Sept. 2 at One Longfellow Square. onelongfellowsquare.com
NOTES: Builder of the House first caught my attention in 2012 when they released the EP “I Am a Tidal Wave,” followed by another EP called “Hourglass” in 2015. “There Is No Hourglass, Only Sand” is a favorite from those days with its toe-tappin’ folk-pop catchiness. Rob Cimitile’s voice is warm like a freshly-lit fire and grows on you all the more over time. “Ornaments” is the first full-length album, and although the earlier stuff was great, this new one is even better. Cimitile and Heeschen brought in guest musicians Jed Bresette, Andrew Scherzer, Drew Wyman, Alice Anderson, Colleen Clark, Peter Himmer, Todd Hutchisen, Clara Junken, Dominic Lavoie and Ashley Storrow. “Ornaments” is layered like spanakopita with each song representing a slightly different taste and texture yet fitting together perfectly. “When No One is Here” is impossible not to love with the lyrics “Maybe when your history is written they will not see/The missing pages, early stages, white out, editing/They’ll just see who you want to be.” And then there’s “Look at the Man.” The liner notes say its “about a fictional character who struggles with a lack of approval from their parents surrounding their gender identity.” The song will break your heart but also fill you with hope as Cimitile’s voice rises on certain words. “Look at the man and see him/Tt ain’t easy keeping secrets/He runs around so hopelessly wanting peace.” Ouch. But also amen. The video stars Conor Leigh Tubbs (aka Cherry Lemonade) in a bold day-in-the-life documentary of sorts set against a tender yet riveting song. Builder of the House continues to build momentum as they darn well should be.
Here’s the video for “Look at the Man”
AND ONE MORE THING: If you order your ticket before August 19th you’ll get a free t-shirt! Info here.