Sam Prekop - Sam Prekop
I just picked up Sam Prekop's (of the Sea and Cake) first record over at Newbs' (Newbury Comics, the best record store around in my humble opinion). The record is self-titled and is basically an extension of Prekop's sound on his full band records with the Sea and Cake, minus the electronics. The record features Prekop's signature "Jazz-Indie-Pop" sound (or as I like to say, Jizz-Pop...just kidding) along with production and musical contribution from none other than Jim O'Rourke (Of Loose Fur, Gastr Del Soul, Solo Records, and Producer of about 4000 awesome records). The record opens with "Showrooms" a track that for the first 40 seconds or so could easily be a cut off of a more traditional Bill Frisell album. When Sam's soft, whispery voice comes in the band (comprised of Prekop on vocals and various instruments, fellow Sea and Cake member and multi instrumentalist Archer Prewitt, the aforementioned Jim O'Rourke, bassist Josh Abrams and percussionist Chad Taylor) sets into a sort of jazz groove that builds then falls and builds in falls in conjunction with Prekop's vocals until the tune finishes with a jazz flavored instrumental section lead by what sounds like a two violin, one viola, trio. The record moves along at a very leisurely pace, a perfect mix of smooth jazz and indie pop. Each song is guided along by both obscure instrumentation (chances are mostly O'Rourkes ideas) and Prekop's dreamy and relaxing voice. For me, Taylor's drumming, amongst other things, really make this record. His delicate use of brushes, cymbals, and hi-hat work perfectly in almost every song to accent Prekops gentle vocals and the songs' subtle arrangements. Overall, this is a beautifully produced album (I give O'Rourke credit yet again) that truly serves Prekops songs to give them an organic, airy, atmospheric feel. I can't help but think (at the risk of sounding like a bit of douche bag) of this record as a soundtrack to a day on a breezy, secluded beach with waves slowly crashing onto the sand make just the slightest of sounds. Lyrically, much of what Prekop is saying is inaudible and really trivial in terms of the whole picture, Prekop truly uses his voice as nothing more than another instrument in the band, and in this case, it really works. My major complaint with this record is that it is too monotonous, while more listens prove to open up my eyes more and more to the differences between the songs, I find that most of the tempos, arrangements, and general feel of the songs are very similar and tend to bleed together when looking back on the record. I suggest this record to fans on indie music who are looking for a more (apologies in advance) "chill" (let me explain, I don't mean "chill" in the sense of "the new Nickleback song is so chill dude" I mean it as in cool, as is in the way badass jazz musicians used to use the term cool) sounding band and have patience to sit through an instrument-based record that lacks big hooks and melodies (in the vein of Radioheads Kid A). Check it out, at its worst, its great background music and at its best it is a unique take on indie pop that can come from very few sources other than a band featuring Sam Prekop, Archer Prewitt, and Jim O'Rourke.