Wednesday, November 28, 2012

No Wine for Kittens, Not Ready Yet, 2012

Studying for a Show Album Review

There is something great about going to a show and being stunned by a band that you've never heard before.  Maybe you weren't expecting an opener on the bill, but then they come out and blow you away.  That happens to me sometimes; and when it does, I love it.  More often, though, I go the slightly less spontaneous route and "study" before a show.  I'll pick up the latest album by whichever band I'm going to see, and listen to it at least a couple of times as preparation.

I just bought a ticket to the Asbury Music Awards happening on December 13th at The Stone Pony.  While I understand that not all of the bands on the list of nominees will perform, I've used the list to study for the evening.  I, maybe a little too obviously, started working my way through the "Top Indie Rock Band" category; and that's how I came across No Wine for Kittens.

No Wine for Kittens are an Asbury Park-based five-piece co-fronted by Emily Whitt and Rick Barry.  Drummer Andy Bova produced the six-song Not Ready Yet E.P.  No Wine for Kittens have a lush, indie-pop sound with some of the hallmarks of the nineties revival sound that's been so popular over the last few years.

The record opens with "Even," which starts out with a strummed acoustic guitar and builds with layers of keyboard, guitars, and crashing percussion.  The voices of Whitt and Barry play nicely off of one another as the song reaches its climax.  "Emily (in which we say hello)" is one of those nineties-revival sounding tracks à la The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, minus that band's heavily produced vocals.  On epic closer "All Your Things, They Wait for You (in which we say farewell)," Barry takes the lead, but again Whitt's voice is there to add to the texture.

No Wine For Kittens have a familiar, melodic, indie-pop sound on Not Ready Yet.  The play between the voices of Whitt and Barry, coupled with Bova's production, work to differentiate that sound from many of the bands (like, say, Band of Horses) working in a similar vein.  The lower-fi production adds a punch and an edge that keeps the songs interesting.

I'm pleasantly surprised almost every day lately by the amount and variety of great music being produced in my own backyard.  Studying for the Asbury Music Awards turned up a local gem in the form of Not Ready Yet.  I can only hope that the rest of my studies produce similar results.

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