Thursday, October 16, 2008

Marvelous Toy - Out of the West and into your ears

I sometimes enjoy lo-fi sounds paired with big sonic tastes and lots of instruments thrown together; a band like Saturday Looks Good To Me comes to mind, with their idea that in the golden days of music, well, we recorded and felt the instrumentation more. Then you have bands that really push it onward and upward with a kind of "the bigger the better" mentality I feel, with Flaming Lips and Arcade Fire.

Marvelous Toy hails from different parts of Los Angeles, bringing together a few different sounds that are altogether far away from the pulsating pop or vacuous rock or g-funk rap...or snotty third wave ska (hey ska still love ya). Their angle is really to inject an already full-of-imitators genre with some Western twang, and I don't mean southern country, but a Western western twang, reflecting beauty and starkness from times on a "frontier" of some sort. Jordan Hudock's vocals, I thought at first on their song "You Were Brighter", was trying too hard to channel an indie Johnny Cash minus the deadpan, natural calm Cash's voice brings, but on "Twice the Speed", he really succeeds with a steady delivery and good emotion. On "Waiting For The Fire" the falsettos and chorus do a poor man's Shins.

The keys also keep things old timey down-to-earth or conversely add a pronounced orchestral touch, and some lulling backing vocals from cutesy Ny Lee kind of make you wish you were watching a sunset with a beer, maybe in Silverlake, maybe in the woods, maybe just anywhere.

At the core, they fuse this western aesthetic with slow pop progressions, you know, to mimic being contemplative. While not punchy with their switch ups and bridges, they certainly pull through with a lush sound that I'm sure a band with more members and verve like Arcade Fire could admire. They describe their sound as "a washing machine" but I think they can admit to a more calculated delivery than that.

I'm curious to see where they go from their EP "All Is Quiet", with it's silhouette flowery late sixties San Fran vibe artwork; maybe lyrically they'll inject some uppers and the music will follow. Only in the west I guess.

Marvelous Toy will be playing a Halloween show at R Bar with Les Blanks, The Voyeurs, The Hectors, and Fol Chen. Not a huge fan of the mopey music video but I'm sure live they'll throw a few smiles.

Suggested Track: "Twice The Speed" (not on the EP)

Visit their MySpace page or you can buy here at Amazon.

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