Bellevue-based three-piece Slow Blind Corners kicks up a pleasant, upbeat racket of shambolic, ’60s-styled Pop on their debut CD, New Places. The songs follow a pretty simple formula: acoustic guitars, bass and drums provide the backbeat for vocal harmonies, psychedelic-era-Beatles-informed electric riffing and the occasional bubbling synth line, which all run wild on top of the proceedings.
While this album is far from perfect, the minor faults aren’t enough to detract from the overall jaunty quality of the tracks. New Places suffers from some mistakes that seem pretty typical of small-time releases. The whole CD sounds like it was recorded in a wet cardboard box, for one, and the rhythms aren’t always spot-on. Head Corner Mike Fair, formerly with the Throbs and Lonely the Seabird, is the group’s guitarist, lead vocalist and songwriter. He tends to sing in a slightly whiny and indecipherable warble, which would be annoying were it not for the fact that he pulls it off with a level of boyish enthusiasm and slacker charm that leaves the listener with the impression that this guy is just too endearing to hate.
Perhaps the most refreshing aspect of New Places — and what makes it a local release worth hearing — is its fierce unwillingness to succumb to the increasingly trite and tired trends of the last ten years or so, trends that have become the institutional sound of today’s Indie Rock. There are no chiming, reverbed guitars, no Post-Punk tendencies, no grandiose, wailed choruses and no goddamn angular chords. New Places is lo-fi music that's steadfast in its antiquated yet timeless Pop structure. Like previous Alt-Poppers Sloan, Lilys and Velvet Crush, bands that all started off with debut albums firmly entrenched in ’90s musical idioms such as Grunge and Shoegazer before slowly transmutating into ’60s Mod Anglophiles, Fair and his band seem to delight in making music that isn’t trendy. But unlike the aforementioned bands (well, Sloan and Lilys at least), the Corners aren’t snarky or obtuse about it. They just sound like they never got over Harrison's killer lead riff in “Taxman.” And what Pop music lover can blame the Corners for that?