7" pop shots

“Leave Less Waiting” b/w “Sky’s A Mirror”
Cass Records

Brendan Benson
“What I’m Looking For”
V2 (download)

It should be noted that the Waxwings aren’t a singles band. These four corduroyed dudes have proven nothing if not how to make languid jangle stretch out over an entire record. Here, with two cuts plucked from the midsection of their latest full-length, Let’s Make Our Descent, the pop-perfecters have selected a pair of jams that, though bursting with trademark Byrdsian harmonies, plucky rhythms and psych-poetic ambiguity, fairly trip over themselves as the grooves unwind. “Leave Less Waiting” has a cocksure swagger that never really finds an audience for its confidence. “Sky’s A Mirror,” while packed full of verve, is layered with a kind of chaos that can’t decide whether it wants to party or make you sit up and pay attention. The Waxwings are masters of the quick one as bracing tonic for the masterstrokes of languid, Rickenbacher and heavy-lidded-though-clear-headed pop land- and cloud-scapes. This double-shot simply doesn’t play to their strengths.

Meanwhile, surfers to the V2 website can get a taste of the latest offering from the Waxwings’ partner-in-pop Brendan Benson. In fact, Benson produced the aforementioned Waxwings tracks at his Grand Studio, but we digress …

“What I’m Looking For” is a slight romp directly through the heart of Benson country inasmuch as its lyrics — as well as Benson’s earnest, measured and half-heartbroken delivery — play expertly with that lost-boy line between ambivalence and braggadocio. He reminds us that “I visit hell on a daily basis/And I see the sadness in all your faces.” And then there’s a little bass lick and he’s back wondering how he doesn’t know what he’s looking for, but he’s gonna look some more. It’s an airtight and irresistible construction. And if it’s any indication of his forthcoming album, Alternative to Love, OC viewers and indie-pop fans alike should soon be getting wind of Benson.

Chris Handyside is a freelance writer for Metro Times. Send comments to [email protected]
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