Sound Team | Movie Monster (Capitol)

You can tell a band’s character by how they want their music to be heard.

You can tell a band’s character by how they want their music to be heard. Sound Team chose cassette tapes to be the helm of their initial recordings. How cool is that? Fans with aging four-wheeled rovers can appreciate the joys of slipping in a brand new cassette tape and then happily flipping it over to repeat. Sigh…

In January 2003, Matt Oliver and Bill Baird began Sound Team as a recording project. Now with its self-made recording studio (christened the “Big Orange”) the Sound Team has the space to be as creative and loud as possible.

After snagging a demo, Capitol Records promptly signed the band and released the Work EP last December. Movie Monster is their first full-length effort and it is amazing. With six members in the band, the album has a full musical landscape featuring traditional rock instruments as well as piano, keys, and the Moog synth. Producer Mike McCarthy (Spoon) helped the band with making the record sound so effortless and whole.

Not easily identified with one genre or influence, the Sound Team appeals to a wide array of musical coinsurers. They have a goal of creating good, soulful songs, and they succeed. Movie Monster begins with a short light pop intro “Get Out” and leads into “Born to Please,” on which Baird’s Moog makes its sonic appearance known. “No More Birthdays” showcases Oliver’s pop/punk vocals and lyrical talents. Though Oliver’s lyrics may seem to float around topically as they are indecipherably sung, they have an impact on the listener and are unique.

The title track switches to a low-key pace with pouty vocal delivery. Again, the words—“we put our hands into the air but we don’t need to be delivered”—and the cool beat of the drums/synth effects sets the tone. The addition of the Moog brings out a beautiful haunting quality to the music. “TV Torso,” more techno than pop, speeds up the tempo of the record. Clocking in at over six minutes, it reminds one of “Dirty Epic” by Underworld, especially the fuzzy guitar and flowing lyrics in the background.

A favorite on Movie Monster is easily “Back in Town,” with a handful of lyrics describing what its like to return home: “You don’t need to look for trouble, trouble will find its way to you”; “The bleachers are empty, the sky is an impossible blue”; and “When there’s 9,000 neckties in a swarm all around you and you lunch counter girls.”

Closing Movie Monster is the fun and energetic “Handful of Billions,” a good driving-in-the-car-on-a-summer-day kind of tune. This hardworking team of musicians should feel proud of their first major label release, though I still enjoy the throwback appeal of those old-school cassette tapes.

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