Stolen Jars’ new album, Kept, is percussively adventurous (pop) music. Maybe not quite like Liars’ Drum’s Not Dead, but think: All Tiny Creatures, Local Natives. Stolen Jars put forward an emphasis on sonically interesting rhythms, because why not? There are not enough new bands who take the time to explore actual sound craft—that seems to fall more within the purview of straight-up experimental (and then, more often than not, electronic music) acts, but this band seems at least somewhat dedicated to trying to carve out their own sound, which is pretty great and admirable. Kept reminds me, come to think of it, of some other catchy and curious experimentalists—Dirty Projectors, though maybe without the same whiff of seriousness that seems to accompany that band’s albums.
This whole split EP between Owen and Into It. Over It. reminds me of very late 90s/early 2000s guitar rock and in the best ways. Like this EP could sit comfortably beside Jets to Brazil albums, or a single from Geoff Farina, or a 2002 Barsuk compilation. It’s 4 songs long and it’s riveting, though I suppose one’s rivetability for this would depend on how much you love the sound of the music from that time period. For me, hearing the hard chords and earnest singing of Into It. Over It.’s Local Language is as much a signifier of those years as things like Discmen, Napster, and music listservs. Local Language is such a forceful but tidy song too–unexpectedly accomplished. The whole EP’s a pleasure.
Someone from Radiohead—either Jonny Greenwood or Ed O’Brien—once said that handing over their songs to be remixed was like, “giving your dog to a stranger to take it for a walk, and then the stranger returns with a completely different dog.” That quote applies here, because Mark Fell’s remix of Lakker’s Oktavist is a bent and burnished version of the original. On the album, Oktavist is a slow-moving beauty, languid and delicate. Fell takes the pith of the track—the pulsing bass—and sets it on its own. He makes it harder, faster, narrower. One of the best things about remixes is getting a different perspective on a song—understanding the original choices that the artist made, and then having the opportunity to listen to the way that someone else hears the track, what they were attracted to, what they thought was worthy of notice. Lakker’s recent album, Tundra, is a great record, and this companion remix LP offers some great (and weird) takes on the original tracks.