Thursday, May 17, 2012

Friend Roulette - Hi, Hello EP (2012)

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While gearing up for the upcoming release of their debut full length which is my most anticipated album in life, if not solely the year. Brooklyn chamber pop ensemble Friend Roulette have decided to ease the wait with a less life-consuming release, their tragically short Hi, Hello EP released on Goodnight Records. Now if you were at their double release show with Matty Fasano last month, the May release date might seem a bit of a surprise for you, especially if you snagged one of their fancy limited edition 10" picture discs designed by the group's violinist/vocalist Julia Tepper, and yet here we are. Earlier this week marked the official release date of the EP and Goodnight Records certain makes it worth your while even if you've already gotten your hands on the EP.

If you've heard the group's self-titled debut EP, "Hi, Hello" shouldn't be too much of a shock for you. While wholly new, the track inhabits the same lush cinematic realm of "Or Berlin" or so it seems. The group's embrace of dark textures are checked so that the tune is teased just enough with them to give the barest hint of a nightmarish turn in the dreamy, picturesque opening track. Brilliant bolstered by heavenly harmonies and more or less grounded by resonant bass clarinet, "Hi, Hello" shows a side of Friend Roulette I wasn't sure existed, at least from their energetic live show. Thoughtful in composition and restrained in the use of its multitude of members. Friend Roulette has always been impressive for its diverse lineup but their ability to employ them all in a way that's not too overwhelming is the far more impressive feat here. "Hi, Hello" is a track that reveals more of itself listen after listen as quaint little moments establish themselves swiftly and seems to flitter away almost as rapidly. Just enough to make you want to hear them again and again.

Whereas opener "Hi, Hello" is light and dreamy, b-side "On Her Own Tonight" is very much its opposite. An airy yet spacey opening before the vocals enter, a busy-ness that never seems to stop whether in the oscillating bass line provided by John Stanesco on bass clarinet or the careful pitter-pat of Kyle Olson and Tlacael Esparza's percussion.  "On Her Own Tonight" has random bursts of brightness among its sea of frenetic dark landscapes - even as the track's rising, frantic pacing takes an abrupt stop for a virtually a capella moment before building and breaking into its previous tempo and reestablishing its unceasing forward momentum as the track swirls, glides, and otherwise gracefully reaches its end.
The digital version of the EP (which is really more of a double A side or something because it's only two songs) has two bonus tracks demo versions of "Dog Tambourine" (which I have never heard before) and "Or Berlin" so if you like what you hear make sure to buy either the vinyl picture disc or digital version (or BOTH!) via Goodnight Records here. The band's also hosting a second, more official record release party at Pianos in NYC on Saturday May 19th so if you're in the mood for something astonishingly wonderful make sure to drop by. (Tickets/Info)

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