If Modest Mouse got heavily into shoegazer music, having never met Phil Ek, then they might sound something like House on a Hill. This trio from Seattle, who met because of a Modest Mouse song, combine the jangly guitar / bass combo and bending notes of that band with the droning rhythms found in such bands as My Bloody Valentine and Ride. The Irani / Pakistani mix that is Sara Kermanshahi plays guitar and trades vocals with Cedar Apffel, the band’s bassist and other guitar player. Carlos Moncada, a jazz drummer, makes up the last third of the band that mixes indie guitar aesthetics with dreamy atmospheric pop in a genre that I am going to dub `shindig,’ to represent the mix of indie and shoegaze.
“Arcadia” starts off the album in a gauzy and wistful manner, and not anything having to do with the Duran Duran offshoot (as far as I know). Sara and Cedar don’t start adding vocals until the second song, “Gypsy,” not having anything to do with the Fleetwood Mac song (as far as I know). The tradeoff vocals is somewhat reminiscent of Blonde Redhead, however without the high-end beauty. Songs go by, blending into one another like one long Mobius strip of insomniac driven pieces.
“G.A.N.” is one of the songs that sound most like Isaac Brock’s band, so much so that I wondered if it was a cover. Other songs later in the album will also be telltale signs of fandom for the Issaquah band, but Ladyslipper is not all `House of Mouse,’ although that wouldn’t be a bad title for the album. The trio has created some intricate and lovely siren songs. I use the term not only because of their eventual enticement, but also because, instead of making one want to get up and dance, the songs make one want to drive their boats into craggy rocks if for nothing else than a change of pace.
Unfortunately, Ladyslipper is going to end up to be somewhat of a forgettable album. There just aren’t enough hooks to entice the casual listener, and love them or hate them, it is Isaac Brock’s lyrics and vocal style that stand out and draw an audience whereas the lyrics and detached vocals of Sara and Cedar are afterthoughts to the glorious noise they create. House on a Hill probably aren’t going to knock your socks off, but they have put together a pretty decent album with plaintive and melancholy music to while the time away on a rainy Northwestern afternoon. And clocking in at more than an hour, it kills quite a bit of time.
Modest Mouse- This is a Long Drive for Someone With Nothing to Think About
Polvo- Cor-Crane Secret
Shark Quest- Gods and Devils