By now, you know that I can be somewhat excitable, and when I get excited, I tend to bombard you with the same information ad nauseum (how many times have I linked to my own post about The School?). And when I get really excited, I become preoccupied and forget to do important things, like a #faibw recap. Get over it. This is better. [Begin tale of serendipitous googling]
On Monday, I was doing some research for my Splashdown entry (did you all download your free albums, albums plural?!), trying to figure out if Melissa Kaplan, the former lead singer of Splashdown, was still performing around L.A. as Universal Hall Pass. Google lied–sort of. This was the other Melissa Kaplan (not Melissa Kaplan the world-famous herpetologist and author of Iguanas for Dummies, heretofore referred to as MK3). But its ok, because she likes Splashdown and Universal Hall Pass and she capitalizes and punctuates her emails. Also, she is in a band.
The band is The Hard to Get. They are from L.A. and I have listened to their new EP, Looking Good at least 15 times since Tuesday. Looking Good, starts off strong with the title track and Melissa singing “Mama didn’t live like me / She was married by 23 / She didn’t rock a late night scene, / didn’t follow her midnight dreams” over acoustic guitar arpeggios and Tim Lee’s accordion, all of which is reduced to bass and handclaps by the third verse before mounting to the requisite tutti finale.
“Dance Serene”, the fourth of the five tracks which comprise Looking Good is notable as an admirable invocation of the Brazilian sound (impressive since, as most of you probably know, Los Angeles is not in Brazil). Seriously, folks, this track could very well have appeared on a Cibelle or CéU record. The final track, “She Is a Jet”, is a strong closer. With a groove worthy of nosnow/noalps and momentum to match, this is a straight-up indie rock tune, and a good one.
On such a short set (about 20 minutes) with so many bright spots, it is difficult to choose a standout track, but I have done so anyway, and I’m going to go against the grain here. While in many ways, “Dance Serene” is the landmark track of Looking Good, it is the third song, “Good at That”, which has stuck with me from the moment of the first listen. Maybe it’s the sickeningly infectios “do do do” refrain (I’m singing it right now, can’t you hear?) or the call and response style chorus. Or it could be the lyrics, which are terribly clever (“Hey I don’t know how / I got caught in your labyrinth of mist and cloud. / From France to the Hague / the only thing that’s clear is that our love is vague. / But the last time I tried to share what I could see / I had to give my heart a hysterectomy. / I’m really good at faking out. / What a tease.”). I can’t really be sure, but I do know that this is clear cut, good songwriting and I like it. And it ends on a major seventh (which is sexier than Piney Gir‘s accordion)!
I haven’t mentioned the second track, “The Verge”. It’s good, too, but I didn’t want to sound like I was gushing or anything and lose 12,000 indie points for such an uncouth departure from my typically cool and disaffected writing style. (God forbid my blog be too blog-like!) The Hard to Get are in the process of finalizing their summer tour, and we will try to have those dates for you when we can. For now, you can buy Looking Good from thehardtoget.com, listen to several of the tracks on MySpace, become their fan on (the far superior) Facebook, and watch the video for “Shake” below.