Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Aaron Schroeder, a dashing young man in flashy white glasses.

Here's a jolly bit of pop sent by Aaron Schroeder, singer-songwriter and early-20-something residing in Washington state. Schroeder comes off as a bona fide nice guy and offers, via his website, to work something out for fans who'd like his album but can't pay $7.99. If everyone did business this way, certainly the music industry would earn more support. Alas.

In any case, Schroeder's follow-up to last year's suitably-titled Southern Heart in Western Skin is Black and Gold. Opener “What We Don't Know” has such an exaggerated twinkle to it, emanates such glee, that it almost comes off as a parody of '60s vocal pop (compare to the recent Spoon record, for example, which adversely mimics '60s pop with zero irony). Some of this merry mood might be due to Schroeder's voice, strong and proud, words well-enunciated – think Ben Folds. For the most part, though, the record strays from this ambiguously retro irony in tone, instead picking up as a more confident, jolly, pub-style country-pop sequel to Southern Heart in Western Skin, complete with hand claps and broken glass. Like his 2006 album, Black and Gold rides too heavily on neither country nor twee pop, making the musician come off as an indie kid experimenting in country, though he's apt to please more of that “indie” crowd. Interestingly enough, that's where his influences lie, so his style sounds like an exciting moment of dabbling in “what would happen if...?”

Also of note are Schroeder's guests, including Justin Meldal-Johnson of Beck's backing band (not wildly prominent as the bassist on “What We Don't Know”) and Kind of Like Spitting's Ben Barnett (wildly prominent as a backing vocalist on ballad “Call Out to Me”). Black and Gold is a safe record, but it's quite a pleasant listen overall and will provide an appropriate background whether you're asking for a dance or shedding drunken tears.

Purchase Black and Gold via Aaron Schroeder's website.
Purchase/listen to clips of Southern Heart in Western Skin (2006)

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