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  For Your Home or Office  
  Park Avenue Music  
Release Date:
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Park Avenue Music are an electropop outfit who record for Sacramento's Clairecords, and have released a delightful little EP. This music fuses much of recent electronica into one whole by combining sultry triphop vocals and keyboards with glitchy beats and cut and paste effects. In their music i hear echoes of Aphex Twin, Portishead, Boards of Canada, M83, and Stereolab. It's a heady mix of some of the best of the recent electro scene, and Park Avenue Music combine it all in a seemingly effortless manner, not so much ripping off these bands, but rather taking what they have done and moving it forward, blending it together happily.

On listening to For Your Home or Office, the first element that really strikes me is the voice. Vocalist Jeanette Faith has a rich voice, deep for a female, and with odd pronunciation that reminds me of Portishead's Beth Gibbons. She uses this voice to great effect, providing lovely counterpoints to the chugging keys and skittering beats. The keyboard work itself is rather interesting. It is a subtle chiming sound, much like the keyboard work of Boards of Canada. It has that old fashioned analog synthesizer sound, rich and lovely. Combine this with beats that pop and hiss in the background, and you have a very good, very contemporary sound.

The EP starts off with a fun piano song called Cutter, wherein Ms. Faith half swallows her words, making the song sound vaguely melancholy. In the next tune, The Mellow One, the keyboards grow in the background like an organ off of an early Tangerine Dream album, and Ms. Faith shows more of her range, really belting out the vocals.

As interesting as those first few tunes are, it is the next two that really make this EP stand out. First we have Golden Hummingbird, which starts as a fun little glitch tune. There is a happy keyboard melody, and the voice and percussion are computer mangled, popping, skipping, going all over the place. Then the glitch continues to grow, until it consumes the whole song at about the three and a half minute mark. After a few seconds of silence, Golden Hummingbird is reborn, stronger, better, catchier. A drum riff rolls in, accompanied by a rollicking bass riff, and Park Avenue Music groove along for a few minutes. And when they rock out like this, they do it incredibly well. I am entranced by the way this song ebbs and flows, by the way it progresses and grows. Really fine work.

It is the next tune, however, that is likely to be Park Avenue Music's classic. The song is called How's Your 401K?, and is destined to be used by some financial services company that wants to appear trendy in their commercials. That said, it's a great tune, with a very catchy keyboard riff looped over and over, a distorted guitar echoing, and Ms. Faith singing clearly and strongly. The glitch element is there in the background, more subdued here, more of a flavoring than a dominating factor. When i have played this for indie rockers who normally don't get into the glitch, they have enjoyed it. It's such a strong, catchy song that it transcends the electropop genre that Park Avenue Music inhabit. A wonderful song, and i look forward to hearing its catchy melody in a Dean Witter commercial in a couple of years.

There next tune, The Modern Guide, features a deep chugging drum hit, and Ms. Faith singing deeply. It's a good tune that grows nicely to a high point of keys and rhythm. This features some of the strongest rhythm elements on the EP, a strong drum machine beat, and, as such, it grooves along at a nice head-bopping pace.

Finally, For Your Home or Office ends with Betrwayx. This is a very melancholy tune, with a mournful keyboard riff with piano and lightly crunchy beats. It's not bad by any means, but isn't the strongest tune here either.

Overall, this EP clocks in at just over 33 minutes, but it's 33 minutes of quality music. All of the songs have their own merits, and none are weak. However, the two songs in the middle make this EP stand out. I think that this is wonderful, and i look forward to seeing what they do next. Can they make more music this catchy, this entertaining? I certainly hope so.

Related Links:
  The Park Avenue Music website, and there are plenty of MP3s there if you look for them.  

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