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coverpic flag Mare Smythii - Full Moon 101 - 12/26/04

The High Water Marks
Songs About the Ocean
Eenie Meenie Records

The High Water Marks (HWM) atttracted my curiosity as yet another spin-off band from the huge and so often fantastic Elephant 6 family. With Hilarie Sidney (Apples in Stereo, Secret Square) on lead vocals and guitar, Mike Snowden (Von Hemmling) on bass, Per Ole Bratset (also in Norwegian - yes, he is Norwegian - band Palermo) on lead guitar and vocals, and drummer Jim Lindsay (Oranger, Preston School of Industry). All songs are written and recorded during last year (2003) by Hilarie and Per Ole, but somewhere on the way Mike and Jim have come aboard the ship. And just to make the E6 link stronger Apples in Stereo's Robert Schneider has been in charge of mixing the album.

If you're already a fan of the Apples you'll probably cave in quite easily. HWM play indie rock like indie rock should be: jingly-jangly, bumble-fuzzed, honey-coated pop with a charming touch of the naïve. Because this isn't that far off from Apples' latest album, Velocity of Sound. But in addition to the usual Elephant 6 alert I also sense some other sound HWM relate to: vintage Kiwi pop from the the legendary Flying Nun label. First and foremost the Bats. And especially the songs with Per Ole on lead.

Songs About the Ocean holds 11 songs and accelerates off the ramp with opener "Good I Feel Bad", which kind of sets the mood with its blurry, wooly lo-fi landscape, shared vocals between Hilarie and Per Ole, and a short and cunning guitar solo. Then the record leaps into the Per Ole sung "Slowhand". Remember I mentioned Flying Nun and the Bats? Check out this little energy pill. Great! So is Hilarie's quieter "Have Another Dream", and the more energetic "Sixth Of July". But the stand-out track of side one (vinyl edition) is: "Queen of Verlaine". Yet again the Bats comes to mind, and that's a compliment for sure. The, well, title track "About The Ocean" rounds off side 1 rather nifty, and make us keen on more.

The flip-side keeps on to the path and the same fine level of quality as side 1. I addition to the tracks listed earlier I can pull a couple of other stand-out songs to be "Second Time" (for its delicious guitar pop-noise), "Feel Everything" (for Hilarie's flowering vocals), and runners up for "song-of-the-album" - the closing signature song "High Water Marks".

Recommended for fans of the music by Apples in Stereo and related underground pop - twisted, curled, and itchy-catchy.

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