The Sour Notes, Hot Pink Flares

The Sour Notes, Hot Pink Flares

It seems like every time I see or hear Austinites The Sour Notes, they’re a different band. Okay, that’s not exactly true — they’re always the same “band,” but said band seems to be doing something at least slightly different each damn time. The first time I saw ’em live, they were a quiet, keyboards-and-samples trio, all gentle beeps and bloops and DNTEL-style beats, and the album of theirs that I got right around the same time, this year’s It’s Not Gonna Be Pretty, reflected that somewhat.

Then, the next time I saw them, I didn’t even realize ’til halfway through the set who in the hell I was watching; when it finally did click, my jaw dropped. Different members, different haircuts, and (most importantly) a much more “band”-like, power-pop-y sound, a far cry from the tentative gentleness I’d seen the previous time.

And that second incarnation is pretty much where the band’s Hot Pink Flares 7″ picks up. The title track is immediately more brash and guitar-heavy than anything I’d heard from the band before now, with the band trading in the delicate synths for OK Go-ish fuzzed-out guitars, sweeping melodies, and dense orchestration. Frontman Jared Paul Boulanger sounds less like a kid crooning to a laptop in his darkened bedroom, too, and more like, well, a real-live frontman — he and keyboardist Kelly Dewitt’s vocals are refreshingly confident this time out.

The funny thing is that on “Hot Pink Flares,” the retooled Sour Notes, with their new-ish, in-your-face, sweet-yet-loud indie-pop roar, sounds more like The Wild Moccasins than anything else, at least to me. There’s the same stately feel, the same lush, layered instrumentation, and the same great boy/girl interplay with the vocals.

B-side “Psych Thrill” is a bit more like the band’s older stuff, to my ears, which makes sense, as it’s apparently a new version of a track from the band’s 2009 EP, Received in Bitterness. The track relies a lot more on Dewitt’s angelically pure vocals, which is no bad thing, and combines skittering DNTEL beats with tinkly xylophone, shimmery backing-vocal curtains, jangly guitar, and accordion (sweet!), and in the end, it works great as a counterpoint to the previous track’s pedal-down roar.

If you order the 7″ from the Notes themselves, by the way, you can also snag a bonus MP3, a cover of Beyoncé’s “Halo.” I’ll admit that I’m not super-familiar with the original, but the Sour Notes’ version of the song is nicely done, glacially distant and melancholy, electronics-tinged and otherworldly like an early Goldfrapp song. It may be a bonus, but it’s well worth a listen all on its own.

[The Sour Notes are playing 12/16/10 at Mango’s, along with Muhammad Ali, Zorch, & Hiss & Hum.]
(self-released; The Sour Notes --
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Review by . Review posted Thursday, December 16th, 2010. Filed under Features, Reviews.

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3 Responses to “The Sour Notes, Hot Pink Flares

  1. Tweets that mention SPACE CITY ROCK » The Sour Notes, Hot Pink Flares -- on December 16th, 2010 at 2:48 pm

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Western Homes, the sour notes. the sour notes said: Wooo! First 7inch review! Thanks @SpaceCityRock, based in Htown, where we are playing tonight @mangosmontrose, 9pm $5! […]

  2. SPACE CITY ROCK » The Sour Notes at Mango’s, Tonight (Plus Muhammad Ali, Hiss & Hum, Zorch, & Review/MP3s!) on December 16th, 2010 at 3:24 pm

    […] Posted a review of the Notes’ latest release, btw, their brand-spankin’-new 7″, Hot Pink Flares, and it’s pretty dang cool. I’m liking the A-side, in particular, with its revved-up (but still sweet) guitars and Wild Moccasins-y delivery, but the B-side, “Psych Thrill,” is cool, too (in a lower-key way), as is the extra-special “digital download bonus” track, a cover of Beyoncé’s “Halo.” Check out the full review over here. […]

  3. » The Sour Notes, Hot Pink Flares on December 20th, 2010 at 1:26 am

    […] By Space City Rock […]

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