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Music Picks

Towers of Song

From theatrically inclined fake Newfies, no less.

By Thom Wong 12 Feb 2009 | TheTyee.ca

Thom Wong writes regularly about music for The Tyee. He can also be found ruminating about the state of menswear at The Sunday Best.

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Jumbling Towers -- whoops, there goes the anonymity.

"He's an underrated sheep in my door..." sings the lead singer of Jumbling Towers on upcoming album track "The Kanetown City Rips," or at least I think that's what he's saying. It's hard to know since he sounds like he's down the hall from the microphone, and the lyrics, surprisingly enough, are not online. Neither, for that matter, are the band member's names -- not on their own website, anyway -- Jumbling Towers identifying itself only as a "non-profit musical outfit from St. Louis."

All of this would be infuriating in a major label band -- think Smashing Pumpkins -- but Jumbling Towers redeems itself by both being rather good and offering an entire EP for free ahead of the release of its second album. The EP came out in June and made nary a stir on the usually hungry-for-the-next-big-thing music blogs. Titled Classy Entertainment, it will please anyone who enjoys Dan Bejar's work with the New Pornographers because it sounds almost exactly like it. And while we're playing that game, it should also be said that the still nameless lead singer sounds eerily like Suede singer Brett Anderson doing an imitation of Bejar.

All three share a penchant for crowded, theatrical lyrics delivered in a kind of deranged circus barker cadence, which can be a bit of an acquired taste. But if you like it. there's a lot to like with Jumbling Towers. The songs on Classy Entertainment seem to unfold like musical theatre, with all the various time-changes one might associate with prog rock. The title song rolls along on a good-natured organ line before synthy strings join the mix -- it sounds like the songs advertisers have begun to favour for "happy products." Quick hit "Sal" doesn't even pretend to have a melody, relying instead on hard hitting chords and the occasional odd sound. By the third song one begins to wonder how long they can keep it up, but then you find yourself at the end and wanting to hear "Fortune" one more time, a song that sounds like an English translation of Japanese garage bands.

According to the band's Myspace page, they currently hail from the apparently fictional Kanetown City, Newfoundland, explaining, I suppose, the title of their latest song. Wherever they may be from, one thing is clear -- in a time when the economy looks less stable than the ozone layer, free is never a bad thing.

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