Librarians
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Librarians

Morgantown, West Virginia, United States

Morgantown, West Virginia, United States
Band Pop Avant-garde

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Librarians are certainly different than the professionals they take their name from. Their recent material finds solace in its own untidy ambition as opposed to systematic convention, a flexible ideology that allows their plethora of influences to shed their skins most appropriately. Their second album, Present Passed, will likely be one of 2010’s breakouts due to this newly infused mentality, which was somewhat absent on their debut, Alright Easy Candy Stranger. While receiving plenty of praise, the lack of attention their debut received can be chalked up to a feeling of complacency that resonated throughout the album. Whereas with their debut it seemed as if one memorable twist in a song was good enough, Present Passed finds a band taking less pressure off themselves in regard to writing a song that will get them noticed. This excellent album finds albums full of adventure and capriciousness instead, even with short two-minute interludes like “Island Jam” that fit wonderfully in the midst of a subtly complex album full of varying atmospheres and styles (from tropical-tinged pop to brooding folk). Complexity is not usually so discreet, but as Librarians’ songs evolve and flourish in a surprisingly cohesive narrative there will be cause to replay several songs for the sheer reason of so many enjoyable things going on. For pop music this readily accessible, it is an incredibly rare thing.

I notice even already that it does not take much to sell people on Present Passed, especially those enamored with widely-received artists like Radiohead and Animal Collective that tread deep waters of innovation while still retaining radio-friendly melodies and structures. The latter two artists have little resemblance in their approach, but they often find themselves in the same sentence due to their impact on respective “generations” of music, so to say. They have continued in a style that coincides with their introductory demeanor a decade ago, but also fit seamlessly within what is relevant today. Radiohead have proved durable for nearly two decades, and now eyes are on artists like Animal Collective to follow suit. There will always be creative artists like this, but the question will always be how they adapt to stylistic expectations surrounding music at the time. Radiohead have plenty of bands that sound just like them, whether they bear resemblance to the riveting alt-rock of OK Computer or more glitch-oriented key-led pop of Hail to the Thief. To a lesser extent, the same can even be said for a relatively young artists like Animal Collective and Ariel Pink, who have re-ignited interests in bedroom recording based in both synths and guitars. As a result, it is natural that they fit in with a scene fueled by their influence.

Librarians’ Present Passed seizes upon the expanding classification that psychedelia has been granted lately. As electronica becomes more accessible and acceptable due to the aforementioned artists, utilizing synths is becoming more recognizable in a style known mainly for echoing guitars, placid rhythm sections, and studio innovations. Librarians fit naturally within this range of psychedelia, as their resourceful use of instrumentation from their orchestral flourishes to stabs of synths comes off exuberantly under the rich melodic croon of Trey Curtis, who somewhat resembles the rich tenor of Grizzly Bear’s Ed Droste and is able to similarly transition from somber and retrospective to infectiously upbeat. The tone of the album shifts from track to track, in a cohesive manner of course, but still enough to make track-by-track comparisons somewhat futile. Lead vocalist Trey Curtis shines in an effort like “So What”, where the suave accentuation at each chorus’ end is part of the song’s majestic melody. “It’s like you’re always there when I need someone to talk to,” he sings in this moment. “I want to call your name and make everything new.” It is easily one of the band’s more accessible, coherent, but it sits alongside other tracks that are certainly more on the side of unconventional.

“Wait & See” and “Cranberry Palace” is essentially one song divided into two because of its excellent transitional effect, which sees the hurried and rhythmic jungle-pop of “Wait & See” collide with the serene psychedelia of its counterpart. The latter is particularly beautiful in its reminiscing of ’60s ballads and conclusion of falling synth arpeggios, while “Wait & See” should find great response in fans of Animal Collective’s fusion of high-pitched synths that resemble exotic woodwinds with gauze-y layers of soothing synth. The relaxing effect takes effect once “Cranberry Palace” emerges, and this part of Present Passed plays particularly well. “Candy Season” is also a very likable effort, employing a structure that finds evolving rhythm sections unfold over a brisk acoustic guitar loop. The build-up contained in song’s latter half, which is ushered in by a twinkle of keys, is easily the track’s most melodic moment, though the first half’s sugar-rush analogies are just as memorable. It serves as a nice summary of Present Passed, where most tracks begin with soaring harmonies and infectious rhythms before evolving into atmospheric, psychedelically coherent forms of post-rock that coincide perfectly with the success of artists influenced by these collection of artists that differ in style but not in approach, that being of staying true to one’s origins and molding the expectations surrounding them as a result.

RIYL: Grizzly Bear, Radiohead, Animal Collective, The Turtles, The Zombies, Clinic, Echo and the Bunnymen, Mogwai, The Helio Sequence, The Depreciation Guild, Leonard Cohen, Menomena, Fruit Bats, Stars of Track and Field, Explorers Club, Built to Spill, The Flaming Lips - Obscure Sound


"Present Passed," the new album from West Virginians Librarians, arrived on my desk this morning. That I've only been at work for two hours and I'm already writing a record review, speaks to how much I've been anticipating this album and how much I've enjoyed the album so far.

The album doesn't come out till March 30, but this should definitely go down on your calendar as a must have. Look for our interview with the band in our next issue, due on newstands March 31.

So here are my early thoughts.

The vocals remind me a lot of Animal Collective. They're lazy, echoey, ethereal, layered. The harmonies float above the melodies, which are much easier to sink into than most of Animal Collective's output.

I don't know if the indie darlings were an influence on this album, but you can also hear the band's other inspirations loud and clear here — from the Zombies to Clinic and Echo and the Bunnymen.

They've also shared the stage with Deerhoof, Girl Talk, VHS or Beta and Enon, among others, so you know a little more of what to expect.

But let's not let that convince us this isn't original, exciting music being made right here in West Virginia.

This is pop music, but it's subdued pop music that will quickly weave its way into your head. It's new wave filtered through helium and a warm sunny day with a glass of lemonade.

At 10 tracks and just more than 33 minutes, this is a tight, quick album that rewards you on each successive listen, making it easy to listen to on repeat without getting bored. I haven't taken the album out of my computer yet and it's on its third spin through.

Take the second track, "Candy Season." The rhythm section is propulsive and consistently driving, adding a repetitiveness to the melodies, which lurch forward into a climatic ending. Combined with the layered, ethereal harmonies, it has the effect of lulling you into a trance until your head feels like it's slowly drifting higher and higher like a balloon into the sky.

Then there's "Cranberry Palace," track four, and perhaps my favorite track on the album. It reminds me of old '60s heartbreakers and is perhaps one of the album's more upbeat and straightforward tracks.

I'd be remiss though if I didn't mention "So What?" among my favorite songs on the record and from I've heard this year. That's right. Favorite song anywhere from anyone. This year. So far.

Over a lazy, melodic guitar riff, repetitive bass lines, synth beats, the chorus is repeated multiple times throughout the song, making this easily the catchiest song on the album.

"I want to call your name to make everything cool/and that you're always there when I need someone to talk to/about whatever it is that's got me down/and if there's anything good out there waiting to be found."

There's then a nice, instrumental break to lure your deeper into the melody. Then, toward the end of the song, competing female background vocals kick in in the distance and a slight, low whistling echo picks up momentum carrying the song forward. It all adds up to make this the album's second high point, eight tracks in.

The album then ends with the title track, "Present Passed," on which the band sings, "I just want to be the chink/in your shot glass/Let's see how long/we can make this sip last."

And you find yourself feeling the exact same way. - Graffiti


Librarians released its second full-length album March 9, and I know my review is overdue, but this edition is one for the permanent collection anyway. Ryan Hizer (vocals, guitar, bass), Trey Curtis (vocals, guitar), Kyle Vass (bass, guitar), and Billy Parsons (drums) of Morgantown, West Virginia have a sweet little record here in Present Passed.

The album gets heads bobbing with the drummy, bassy first track, "Marilla Park." Well, everything's falling apart and somebody's laughing -- the disconnect between peppy music and depressing lyrics calls to mind The Cure with a bit less hairspray, fewer Quaaludes, and a slap in the face of drama. Don't stretch your neck out just yet, because this isn't the typical good-first-track, crappy-other-tracks album you might be expecting from these relative unknowns. "Candy Season" and "Wait & See" require double-time up-and-down motions of the head, and you're really not going to get a break until the last track's over. Even though "Present Passed" is the dreamiest on the record, that drum beat is still not finished with you.

Vocals are sort of hushy, a good contrast to the bounce and dance of the guitars, bass, and the synth that takes center stage on "Hard to Unwind."

"So What?" rolls in with a heartbeat bass (I'm liking it) which complements the lyrics this time: "You fall in love with everyone / So what?... / Like a universe without surprise / Nobody lives and nobody dies." Love, living, and dying, yeah those things scream fat heartbeat bassline.

"Kid Stuff" may be about pretty, loose girls who spend too much time with the wrong guys, but at least somebody knows how to act right, damn it. "Don't look foolish / Stay healthy / Whatever you do spell all the words right / Look intelligent / Whatever you do say all the right things."

These guys know something about the takeaway moment. Last track, "Present Passed," is my favorite. "I want to write a good song / I want to be the drink in your shot glass / I want to see how long we can make the sip last." That's just pure sexy.

Present Passed is a little bit Modest Mouse only easy on the quirk, maybe Depeche Mode on an angry night. Check it out. - Ink 19


Yes, this album technically doesn’t come out till march and yes, these guys are from Morgantown. But I can’t help thinking of Mo-Town as an extension of Pittsburgh (including nearly identical accents), if only to include arguably the most confident avant-pop song smiths this side of the Rust Belt, Librarians. “Candy Season,” my favorite track form the forth coming Present Passed, is a dynamic, catchy, insanely fun romp around the Animal Collective neighborhood: complicated percussion, gorgeous melodies, and a simple refusal to play in any sensible time signature. If you were lucky enough to snag the new album at their last show in Pittsburgh (like my roommate) “Candy Season” is merely the tip of the iceberg; Librarians are the real deal: challenging, experimental, catchy, and above all, fucking good. - Speed of the Pittsburgh Sound


Discography

Neo-Rodeo EP (Self-Released 2005)

Alright Easy Candy Stranger (Postfact 2006)

Present Passed (Postfact 2010)

Prepping AAM radio campaign for Present Passed.

Photos

Bio

Librarians formed in January 2004 in Morgantown, WV by West Virginia University undergrads in Billy's parents' basement. The members come from varied musical backgrounds, but learning how to create music all four members can be proud of has been massively rewarding. Most of the band was 19 in 2004. The kind of maturation that occurs in human beings between the ages of 19 and 25 is mirrored in Librarians' output. In the early years, the songs were heavily influenced by post-punk acts such as Les Savy Fav and Enon. As individual tastes expanded, so too was the music shaped by an ever-growing number of influences, which has included T. Rex, David Bowie, Deerhoof, LCD Soundsystem, The Zombies, Air, The Beach Boys, Broadcast, Pixies, MF Doom, Can, and the 90s trunk rattlers of their youth. Each album tends to not sound much like the previous release, and they like it that way. If they could change the name of the band, they might.

Back in Billy's parents' basement in 2004, it is unlikely that any of those strangers thought they'd still be doing this with each other six years later, but these guys love each other and are scared of what might happen if they stopped.

Transworld Magazine licensed two songs for a surf video and they're pretty excited about that.

Librarians have shared the stage with Enon, Deerhoof, Gang Gang Dance, VHS or Beta, and Girltalk, among others.