What Happens Now
What Happens Now by Commerce
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Commerce is one of those little bands who could - and did. The Johnson City, Tenn., quartet may call its record label Littlest Sounds but the seven songs on this mini-album are big and bold and beautiful.
To skip through the tunes is to touch down on a number of well-known indie-pop avatars, from Arcade Fire (the quietly effervescent, subtly anthemic "Ivory Buttons," with its massed choir-style chorus) and Death Cab For Cutie (the buoyantly upbeat "In Your Bones") to Bright Eyes ("A Slip of the Tongue" has a jaunty, strummy, finger-snapping vibe) and even the late, great Beulah ("Questions About California," which in it own sunshine pop way, does conjure tingly visions of the original Goldrush State). What Happens Now isn't a case of paint-within-the-Pitchfork-approved lines, however, for these young men craft consistently engaging tunes, each bearing its own trapdoor-sprung surprises; within the space of a single song, the listener gets taken on a series of journeys that, all tallied, add up to an eminently satisfying experience.
Just the aforementioned "In Your Bones" - the album's unqualified masterpiece, and the kind of tune that should be on every self-respecting blogger's MP3 roster - will make you pinch yourself with delight even if you're only an occasional scholar of classic pop. I hear Death Cab, but I also hear echoes of the sixties British Invasion, seventies glam, eighties powerpop, and of course nineties alterna-rock. When those final, grandiose power chords come crashing down, it's the best bit of sheer sonic catharsis I've gotten all year. You can feel the magic, too: all ya gotta do is believe in it.
Standout Tracks: "In Your Bones," "Questions About California" FRED MILLS --Blurt
THE STORY SO FAR: Matthew Little (vocals/guitar/keyboards) played under the name Commerce with a dozen different members before discovering the right three Tim Rufenacht (guitar), Ethan Henley (bass) and Josh Shores (drums) at a summer camp last year. I started the band as a way to record the few songs I had written, says Little, but once the current lineup got started, the few songs part changed. In addition to releasing two full-lengths and an EP, Little says, Right now we re sitting on 36 new songs that have yet to be released.
WHY YOU SHOULD KNOW EM: The band s most recent full-length, What Happens Now, is awash in layers of lush instrumentation and heartfelt sentiment. The idea was to record an album for a girl in California who I d never met--and have yet to really meet, says Little. The singer has myriad more tales to pull from, including a novel he just finished writing. I have plenty of stories to tell [through music], says Little. Whether the songs are true or not is up for listeners to decide. --Alternative Press
Commerce, a small Johnson City, Tennessee band, have created a truly beautiful debut record. What Happens Now has been referred to as a mini-album, but in fact, besides the length, there is nothing mini about this record. Each song is different than the next, using various instruments throughout the record including a harmonica, cello, and violin. Vocalist Matthew Little can not only sing and write, he plays guitar, keyboard, and bells. Due to this, each song takes its own turn and tells its own story relating to the overall theme of a loved one moving far away and the feelings evoked by the loss.
Questions About California begins What Happens Now, a somber track about a loved one moving far away to California. Little s sincerity and apprehension is fully apparent through his lyrics, as he describes California as a state so far away from here in boxes I have stored my fears. Next track Ivory Buttons is almost haunting, as Little s meek voice quietly speaks throughout the song until the buildup when the band coolly chants, creating chills. The track follows Questions theme, for Ivory is a track about having a mind made up and wishing someone would come back home and is a true gem and standout track.
Green Composition Books begins with the sound of a train and is a stunning song about missing someone; a violin and cellos making the song all the more poignant. In Your Bones is the most upbeat song on the record What Happens Now, showing the skills bassist Ethan Henley, but is in fact a very gloomy song. As Little explains the birds remind me you re on the other side of the globe it is clear just how alone he feels.
A Slip of the Tongue features a harmonica, making the track very unique and Oh No, I Said It continues the theme prevalent throughout What Happens Now, but adds a feeling of hope as Little calmly states that the scent of magazines will keep you close when you re far from me. Final track, The Clouds in a Hurry has a Manchester Orchestra vibe to it, for Little almost sounds like Andy Hull throughout parts of it. Although just over one minute, the song is truly beautiful as the band chants and how this will end, no one knows over a soft piano.
The theme of loss and losing someone who moves is prevalent throughout What Happens Now s entirety, but Little ensures that this mini-album never becomes tired, for lyrically, each song is different and musically every track incorporates various aspects of Commerce. With only their debut album, Commerce have successfully crafted a superb, intricate record from beginning to end. --absolutepunk.net
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