Wednesday, January 30, 2019

A Pair of January Albums from Tallies and Mike Krol

I Am Listening

I'm not quite sure why; but, no matter how much sleep I get lately, I am always totally exhausted when I wake up. There's been some cold / flu whatever going around, and I've had a touch of something for a while now; so maybe that's it. It's gotten a little troubling over the last few days, but I'm just hoping that I can push through it.


That's all to say that how I've been feeling has really put a dent in my desire to go to shows or write for the site (or exercise or leave the house or get up out of my chair). But there have been two albums occupying a bunch of my time since early this year that I wanted to tell you about.

Tallies, Tallies

This Toronto four-piece released their self-titled debut on January 11th. Since then, it's probably been the album in heaviest rotation for me. Sarah Cogan's willowy vocals, the clean, jingly-jangly guitars, and the bright percussion call to mind old favorites like The Smiths and The Sundays.

There are hints of surfy dream pop throughout the album on tracks like "Mother," "Have You," and "Easy Enough." I could listen to the simple acoustic guitar intro on "Midnight" over and over again. Tallies is pop that's simultaneously spacious and super-focused. It synthesizes influences from some of my absolute favorite sources into a sound that's also totally modern as illustrated by single "Beat the Heart."

This is one that will stay at the top of my list for the whole year. Tallies is out now on Kanine Records.

Mike Krol, Power Chords

From the ethereal, dreamy Tallies, we move to the gritty and distorted Power Chords by Mike Krol.

"I used to never understand the blues / Until the night I met you / And every day since / I've gotten better at guitar." That's how Krol opens Power Chords on the album's title track.

From there, Krol uses his hard-earned proficiency with power chords to address someone who's both ruined his life and made him who he is today. With lyrics throughout the album like, "When that song begins to play / It brings back some feelings / That I cannot explain / And though it kills me / I wouldn't have it any other way" ("Power Chords") or "And even if you caused me pain / I know I wouldn't be the same without it," ("I Wonder") Krol both recognizes the pain he's felt and says he would't trade it for anything.

The press materials for Power Chords suggest that, instead of an old flame, Krol is addressing his relationship with music throughout the album. That can be heard in lyrics like, "And I'll drive through the hills at night / Looking at the homes that I / Will never be able to afford." The life of a rock musician requires some sacrifice.

Through distorted vocals (and distorted everything else for that matter), Krol is both defiant and self-deprecating. The noise and fuzz, though, don't obscure the fantastic pop songwriting. Power Chords is out now on Merge Records.

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