Fort Lowell Records snuck in this single from Dead Western Plains right at the end of last year, bringing their total in 2010 to (4) 7" singles pressed since the label started just barely a year ago. Given that these take at least a few months to plan and turn around, the Fort staff probably haven't had a single break since putting together the Young Mothers single. It must be mostly work running a label after all.
The A-Side, "Alta" starts out in that Beach Boys, harmony-surf direction explored by Panda Bear or Animal Collective, specifically like AC's, Strawberry Jam when it moved from an angelic chorus to the frantic shock of clearly hearing the shriek of Avey's up front recognizable vocals.
The influences and changes sound equally as eclectic here. They have a pretty incredible mastery of a variety of styles like the Banned Books full length on Stumparumper.
The high falsetto layers of vocals at the beginning almost become unrecognizable at points. It's a nod to their appreciation of the human voice, which is a direction I think a lot of bands find themselves in, a sort of classic way to push those limits of traditional melody.... and then the electronic production kicks in, in case there was any doubt where they were going.
The 'Jesus' chorus lyric could be a little off putting but then again it's exactly the sort of thing they would be able to get away with, just another character in the fractured narrative between rolling the dice to figure out the next movement.
You want the vinyl to hear all the programmed details. There isn't one thing that remains the same from the beginning to end, not one over-repeated melody. The only thread is the lack of one. A neverending freefall of listening, there ends up being nothing to hold on to for very long, and it's pretty insane going down.
It's a kind of mashup style that might be a result of a pop-saturated culture. This is a reaction to the constant bombardment of ideas and styles. The reaction has to be equal to the original action; demanding attention.
But it never feels like they had to work hard to achieve this either. It has to come somewhat naturally or at least be comfortable in negotiating the mix for all these directions to work together in one track... it's getting easier as younger generations grow up with it. I really think a sound like this would be inconceivable 20 years ago without Dj culture and youtube mashups which steadily trains an audience for a band like this. Black Moth Super Rainbow is another contemporary of this anything goes mentality, except their name gives you some idea of the non-sequitur, barrage of reference points, while here the Dead Western Plains evokes a alt-country band, like Fleet Foxes...romanticizing that barren, lonely place that is an acoustic guitar and tortured vocals.
You could also make a similar assumption from the B-Side title; "Gift Horse in the Mouth", which is slightly more conventional than the "Alta" side. The pacing is decidedly slower, the percussion is more unusual and the vocals have that distorted megaphone feel in places. The entire song fades out toward the end, only to slowly rebuild a completely different melody in an entirely new direction...so specific and distinct, it's like the storytelling of the Firey Furnaces, a sort of progressive epic indie-rock. These two worlds coming together - big Rhodes organ lines over sub bass synth arrangements. The percussion structure needs to use the entire drum kit, but that's the way they approach every song...it's not enough for the end result to be catchy...it has to push the limits variation and then pull the whole thing back to that pop place. They push both of these tracks in every place, looking for some kind of weakness to exploit in the great tradition of The Flaming Lips.
Pick this up and their other quality Arizona based recordings from the Fort's blog.
This stuff was born to be remixed and if you search around DWP's site, you'll find a bunch of hidden versions of these two.
“Alta” b/w “Gift Horse in the Mouth”, recorded for Fort Lowell Records, is Dead Western Plains’ expressionistic debut. The group handcrafted 10+ minutes that lead the audience over hill and dale through winding musical tales of pivotal loss, Armageddon, brotherly love, haunted houses, and passionate crimes. The well-garnered compositions have a kaleidoscope of influences spanning postmodern and romantic composition, pop, hip hop, and electronic artists. “Alta” swells from beginning to end telling the story of a lonely Jesus, a botched attempt at camaraderie, and the epiphanies that come with failure. “Gift Horse in the Mouth”, which summons a darker timbre from the quintet, entangles raucous guitars and ominous organs which provide the soundscape for a dire realization; everything comes to an inevitable end and the horrors that arise when one takes this certainty into their own hands.
My cat is named after a Chomp 7" A-Side, Arizona.
It's all connected.
I love 45's.