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Mates of State

July 9, 2008

So who needs to keep a blog schedule, right? Today I’m supposed to talk about something political; but I’d rather talk about something music related. Music is a lot more fun than politics most of the time anyway. What have I been listening to recently? The last week or so has been devoted to the new album called Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust by Sigur Rós (there’s a lovely pronunciation of the album name on Wikipedia and the translation is ‘with a buzz in our ears we play endlessly). I would go further in explaining the awesomeness of this album if I thought it was necessary, but everyone knows how fantastic these Icelandic post-rockers are so I’ll just leave it at that.

What I really want to talk about is the band Mates of State. Their newest album, Re-Arrange Us, is my first experience with the band even though it is their fifth release. The band is made of of a husband-wife (Jason Hammel and Kori Gardner) team who make great music. Their sound is fairly simple yet sonically powerful at the same time. I know that is probably not a very convincing statement but it’s the best I can do with it. From what I can understand, Jason provides most of the rhythm and Kori is most frequently on the keyboards, she also handles most of the vocals on this particular album. There are significantly intricate drum rhythms that hold up the drive of the songs and this spine keeps the keyboard from feeling naked without a guitar alongside–something that bands like Keane fail to do. Mates of State, however, does use the guitar occasionally but it is certainly not a feature of their sound.

The best feature of the band has to be their fantastic vocals combined with the insightful lyrics. Neither of their voices are what I could consider great, but they work so well with the sounds that accompany them. I am convinced that marriage brings a certain closeness that can be felt when two people sing together and that is certainly the case for Jason and Kori. There exists a tightness in their harmonies that is nearly unexplainable. Jason often pushes toward the top of his range but it is complemented by the subtle energy of Kori’s jangly voice. At the top of their voices they occasionally push beyond what seems comfortable and it sounds almost ethereal rather than forced.

Overall, it’s a wonderful album and I’m rather excited to get deeper into their catalogue.
Also, they look so cool.
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