Sometimes you have to go looking really hard for a new artist that stands out and even then you have to wade through some of the dross that bands use to earn some kind of notoriety. Weirdly enough though, this band fell into my ears while I was watching TV and they stand out by using what are arguably the scourges of popular music, but in a way that doesn’t make you want to throw rotten fruit at them.
I was watching CSI: Miami late in 2011 and the closing song of the episode caught my attention so that I played through the segemnt three or four times while Soundhound tried to pick up what this strange blend of enectronics and acoustics was. The answer it gave me was Amongster by a band called Polica.
As vocalist Channy Leaneagh’s previous band collapsed, along with her marriage, she started working in Ryan Olson’s project Gyangs. After a while, Olson suggested to her (in an encouraging manner) that she should form a new band. He helped her in this process by finding musicians and handing her some sketches to try out. It all sounds a bit X-Factor but they are unspeakibly genuine. Maybe because Ryan Olson’s running the show, maybe because Leaneagh’s lyrics have depth, meaning and an overarching story.
What doubly beggars belief is the band’s arrangement. Polica consists of two acoustic drummers, one bass player, Olson’s beats and Channy’s vocals, which are sent exclusively through a TC Helicon 5 vocal processor. That’s right, all the vocals on Polica’s debut album Give You The Ghost are autotuned and you know what? Here, with this band, that works. It’s not to say Leaneagh can’t sing, hell no, this isn’t another Rebecca Black story. She has a vocal quality I would describe as bewitching, I have not come across a pop singer who so accurately fits the term chanteuse before, but it really does suit. You know what else? Those two drummers don’t ever fight for space in the music, call it good arrangement, call it good mixing, but they work. You don’t miss the presence of a guitar either, the relatively sparse arrangement is all the band needs.
I will be watching Polica with great interest indeed.
…and that’s all for this year’s Stuff on the Year. I’m off on an overseas trip for a couple of months. I may blog a bit more on here over that period, but if you’re interested in what we’ll be up to, hit up http://funnyplace.posterous.com/