Band To Watch

Band To Watch – SXSW Edition: High Places

This week we’re revisiting and reflecting upon the original write-ups for some of our favorite Bands To Watch playing SXSW ’08…

So far, the Brooklyn duo High Places has seemingly made all the right choices as they step further into the hype machine. For instance, instead of rushing out a debut album, they decided to be one of the first two bands featured in its eMusic Selects series. As Mary and Rob mention at their MySpace:

Our merch. table has been a little skimpy (empty) lately, as we await the release of a split 7″ with Xiu Xiu and the release of a single 7″ that is due out on Upset the Rhythm in the UK. And yes, we are also working on our first full-length record, and we hope to have it available for purchase in Europe, Australia, and the States sometime this summer. Until that time, the rad people of eMusic (what’s up to Yancey, the nicest nice guy ever) have created this thing called eMusic Selects to feature and support unsigned musicians like ourselves … We’ve put together an “album” of 10 songs from 2007 that were released on 7″, compilations, and various other obscure projects.

They also haven’t entirely quit their day jobs. And they have a fun, mellow blog. Way to keep your heads about yourselves, High Places.

Originally Published 12/20/07
Yes, every once in awhile those year-end lists are good for something other than epic, never-ending arguments. OK fine probably not on the magazine end of things, but if you’re looking to do some discovery, artist-generated lists are a great way to go. Take Bradford Cox for example. The man not only looks great in a dress, he also knows his shit. He’s a great interviewer, knows how to handle a track review, and was an early champion of the mighty No Age. But all that aside, if you put together an excellent five-point year-end list that includes four from our personal top ten of ’07 (Animal Collective, Dirty Projectors, Liars, Panda Bear) and one we don’t know … we’re gonna seek out that unknown.

High Places is Mary Pearson and Robert Barber

And it turns out that group, Brooklyn duo High Places, is really, really good. Not hard to see why Bradford likes it, it’s a little like Atlas Sound looking in a musical mirror (check the shimmery first minute of “Shared Islands,” the darker final minutes of “Cosmonaut”), but it’s far from solely a reflection of Atlas’s aesthetic. There’s something more playful/less dire at heart, carefree melodies with a concerted infusion of pan-global sounds and percussive tics, from Polynesian, polyrhythmic steel drum sounds to laptop-enhanced tribal grooves. Songs like “Sandy Feat,” “Head Spins,” and the aforementioned “Cosmonaut” come off like a tropically situated Cox/Panda Bear cross-pollination, as fronted by the Belle Stars covering “Iko Iko.” And if you hear a little of the Blow’s Khaela Maricich in Mary Pearson coos, pretty sure Khaela does, too. Musicians love their own reflections. Anyway, there’s gonna be a lot of people aping this Lennox-enabled ‘ethereally luminescent melodic psych’ (or whatever we wanna call it) sound that’s swelling, but High Places already cut through the haze. Dig in…

High Places – “Shared Islands” (MP3)
High Places – “Cosmonaut” (MP3)
High Places – “Head Spins” (MP3)

Far as we can tell, there’s a six-song demo and a four-song EP out there, with a full-length on the way. Head to MySpace to grab one more. A nice warm breeze for your wintry holiday mix.

UPDATE: Jeff K. points us to another must-grab track…

High Places – “New Grace” (MP3)

Two minutes and out, file in that ELMP pop meets the Belle Stars category and then repeat, often.

SXSW Schedule
3/15 @ Volume (Stereogum/PASTE Party)
3/15 @ Mohawk (Todd P Party)

Tags: High Places