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New Standards, The - Sunday Morning Coming Down
|The New Standards – Sunday Morning Coming Down|
Record Label: Princess Records
Release Date: Dec. 4, 2012
A piano welcomes you to the New Standards’ third full-length album of their jazz interpretations of previously recorded songs. In the past they’ve recorded such songs as “Such Great Heights,” “Hey Ya,” and “London Calling.” Their third album is, for the most part, devoid of these happy songs in favor of a more stripped down record.
The New Standards are, according to their own band page, NOT a cover band. Rather, they take influence from the 60s jazz acts who would rearrange the popular songs of their time in their own style. Featuring the ex-bassist of 90s alternative one-hit wonders Semisonic (not to say “Closing Time” isn’t one of the best songs of the decade) John Muson on vocals and bass, composer/ the Suburbs founder Chan Poling on pianos and vocals, and Steve Roehm on vibraphone. Yup, vibraphone. They’ve actually been around since 2005, albeit without much- if any?- exposure.
As I said before, the title track of Sunday Morning Coming Down is the opener. When the vocals first started off, I was taken aback at how deep they were. Not like the National baritone, but far deeper than I’d expected. Over the album, though, I really got to see how the vocals fit well with the rather melancholic music.
The following track “This Must be the Place,” with its falsetto-dotted chorus, is a definite high spot. “Call Your Boyfriend” is one of the album’s more upbeat songs- a shame there aren’t more. Another highlight is “Book of Love,” which is great in pretty much any form, and so I’m glad the Standards performed it as well as they did. “After the Gold Rush” is perhaps the softest song on the album, and surprisingly one of the best. It has a bit of a more atmospheric feel to it, and the vocals are slightly raspier here, only adding to the song. All that said, the record still falls short in places. The album features a cover of the Beatles’ “…And I Love Her.” Really, nobody should cover the Beatles. The Standards slowed the song down considerably, and turned it from a happy lovesong to a more somber song. Their version of “I Scare Myself,” on the other hand, is considerably happier than the original, which just doesn’t quite fit. Unsurprisingly again, their cover of Lucinda Williams’ “Essence” is again far slower and softer than the original, although that doesn’t hurt until about four minutes in, as there are two more minutes of the same repeated instrumental bridge, until about 5:32, when some horns are briefly added.
Truth be told, Sunday Morning Coming Down is not something I would usually be listening to. The album is generally very slow and un-dynamic, few of the more whist songs ever getting any louder. If you are, however, interested in jazz music, then by all means pick this up.