steering clear of the mainstream
since 2001

june 2010

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info opinion

The Bright Grey Wing

"I" CD

Extra Small Records

Genres: indie pop, lo-fi

Extra Small
245 Hyde St.
San Francisco CA

Jan 26 - Feb 1 2004

Ah, remember the days of carefree pop-for-the-sake-of-it that K Recs and co. specialized in?  The Microphones, Some Velvet Sidewalk, Beat Happening, et al?  Perhaps you weren't in the loop at the time, perhaps you were - but everyone remembers it in some way, whether they were there to experience it or not.

The Bright Grey Wing certainly recall that era.  Though a bit less gritty than true 80s/90s Olympia fare, the band's short, almost impatient (yet still laidback) pop tunes share that same melodic zest and 'cuteness' that is looked back on so fondly.  Very infrequently more than two minutes long, I's seventeen songs often sound more like fragments than actual songs, but are still overwhelmingly beautiful in their brevity.

Case in point.  The opening number, "Tavern Song," is a pretty fifty second instrumental (think Elephant 6 calibre.)  It is followed by another short song - clocking in at a minute and fourteen seconds - featuring sweet female vocals sung over a clinky guitar background; though relatively straightforward, its minor-key melodies and bizarre song structure are by no means conventional.  Track three is a bit of anomaly, it being slightly over three minutes - but one listen confirms that it shares the same melodic mysticism that binds I together so well.

But these are only three of this disc's remarkable seventeen tracks.  There are so many other fantastic moments.  "Hope" (forty-five seconds, if you're wondering) recreates an old Hebrew melody using some pleasant flute-playing.  "Ugly," meanwhile, is a dark chamber pop tune that recalls Wild Love-era Smog.  And "The End" is a thirty two second acoustic cover of the apocalyptic Doors classic.

I is unusual, but far from unlistenable.  Any true indie pop lover owes it to him- or herself to hunt this album down and mellow out.


Matt Shimmer

[Vitals: 17 tracks, distributed by the label, released 2003]