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Here's Some Music: Thoughts about Peoplethoughts

December 2, 2009, 12:00 am
By SFR Staff
mikenathan by michaelgarrettrae23Ah Holly Fam'ly, Ohioan and Peoplethoughts
concert and potluck


6 pm
Friday, Dec. 4


Free (donations encouraged)

Meow Wolf
1800 Second St.


This Friday at Meow Wolf, there shall be music. The show is to be headlined by touring Portland, Ore. bands Ah Holly Fam'ly and Ohioan, and joining those two will be Santa Fe/Chama's Peoplethoughts. Michael Rae of Santa Fe (who, along with Nathan Delffs, makes up half of Peoplethoughts) dropped off the band's new album, Dallas County Potential, and SFR gave it a listen. Read more about our verdict down below this aside.

An aside: It's probably no surprise that the concert is set to begin at  6 pm; Meow Wolf has encountered some issues with law enforcement and sound ordinances (read more: The Big Loud Wolf). Start a concert at 6 pm and, unless you've booked some lame Phish-esque jam band whose every song is 25 minutes long, the show should be over with plenty of time to spare when it comes to Quiet Time.



So anywho. We popped the CD in for a listen (and by we, I mean I) and was a little freaked out by the opening track, "Born to be a Christan/Hands as Big as Dreams." It's an a cappella track, what sounds like either one person layering his own voice over and over and over itself, or maybe two people doing that. It was such an ambitious idea that I tried really hard to like it, but eventually I just had to press "next." It was a little sloppily put together and perhaps so many years of high school choir practice made me an a cappella snob, but I digress.

Thankfully, the album's second track, "My Life in the Bottomless Pit," made up for the first track's shortcomings - and then some. It came in with a super-funky beat and effortless vocals that were fun to listen to. As the songs went on, I found that the rest of the album followed suit.

That is what struck me about Dallas County Potential: listenability. I didn't have to make any effort to want to listen to it. A lot of music that labels itself as "experimental" (which Peoplethoughts doesn't do, necessarily, but Ah Holly Fam'ly does so and they play together so that's enough of a connection for me) has none of this listenability. You find yourself straining so hard to figure out why the musicians are doing what they're doing that you forget to listen to the music itself.

But Dallas County Potential clicks right along, winding its way through lots of genres, sometimes channeling the Beatles, occasionally featuring a smattering of the Flaming Lips, then branching off into some new-fangled cousin of '50s doo-wop (but never overwhelmingly so). None of the various disparate things that this album sounds like would ever even begin to describe its whole feeling, so don't take my word for it; you have to listen yourself.

Now, all that being said, it's important when listening to this album to differentiate between production quality and overall quality. The album is pretty haphazardly put together - I mean, the album art is a rubber stamp of some pinecones, and the "liner notes" amount to a torn piece of paper with the track listing inkjetted on. This is the epitome of DIY. But don't let that, or the sometimes strangely-mixed (or downright poorly-mixed) instrumentation and vocals fool you. This is pretty darn good music.

Some standout tracks: "Last Second Hail Mary," which I found myself listening to over and over again for its natural, effortless vocals and infectious melody; "Love Me Like A Train," for being just really awesome and just what I want to hear from musicians full of energy, passion and inspiration; and the album's final track, "I'll Never Make It On Time," a duet that features a sometimes-faulty female voice that makes up for any shortcomings by being so on when it's on. A tremulous vibrato rises above the instrumentation in a moment that could be chalked up to poor mixing, but that I prefer to think of as a perfectly natural opportunity to showcase true talent.

Peoplethoughts is an ambitious group to try so many genres, to layer so many instruments, and to orchestrate so many harmonies. The upcoming show at Meow Wolf should be an awesome time; Peoplethoughts' music just begs for live performance, and, quite honestly, I'm psyched to check it out.

Ah Holly Fam'ly, Ohioan and Peoplethoughts
concert and potluck


6 pm
Friday, Dec. 4


Free (donations encouraged)

Meow Wolf
1800 Second St.

 

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