Since solidifying their line-up in early 2003, the six members of Austin-based indie ensemble Sound Team have defined the term DIY. For two years they toured extensively on their own dime, built their own recording studio, and wrote, recorded, manufactured and shipped all of their music themselves. Eventually, Nashville session engineer-turned rock producer Mike McCarthy (Spoon, Trail Of Dead) approached the band and offered up his services. This led to what would become the Work EP, which Sound Team released via their own Big Orange imprint (named after their recording/rehearsal space of the same name).
Somewhere along the way, this indie outfit, in all of its DIY glory, was recruited by and signed to (God forbid) a major label - Capitol records to be exact. Sound Team's major label debut, Movie Monster, is now slated for release on June 8, but the big question remains, will it stand up to their critically acclaimed EP? Did the pressure and money and expectation and more pressure cause the band to be timid, change their sound, play it safe, and/or try to conform to the major label definition of a "hit song?" I'll make it simple for you - NO. Sound Team basically churned out an album that will be the soundtrack to every indie kids' summer, effectively constructing a defining moment in each ones' lifetime that they will refer to for years to come as "that summer when I listened to Sound Team until my ears fell off."
I'm nearly there already, and it's only April. Since getting my mitts on a very early copy of Movie Monster a couple of weeks ago, I have literally listened to the album somewhere between 40 and 50 times. From the 1 minute, 13 second intro, "Get Out," to the 5 minute, 24 second album closer, "Handful Of Billions," every single moment of Movie Monster is special - the interesting way in which lead vocalist Matt Oliver sings two simple words - "Yea I" - 1 minute and 8 seconds into "Born To Please," how the words "My neighbor's always leaving the light on" sound magical atop a bed of quirky, bouncy keyboards and seem to sink into your subconscious when listening to "No More Birthdays," the way that the title track reminds me why I like TV On The Radio's Desperate Youth, Bloodthirsty Babes so much, or how an insanely intense guitar lick springs forth halfway through the six minute retro indie dance spectacular, "TV Torso." Each one of these moments is worthy of high praise, and though I've only mentioned the first five songs, the record is filled with countless moments like these.
Like Broken Social Scene's epic debut, You Forgot It In People, Sound Team's Movie Monster captures every possible human emotion over the course of just 43 minutes. The lyrics are as thoughtful as the melody and as rich and textured as the instrumentation. The music is exciting and scary, simultaneously bright and dark, with moments of extreme tension that flow seamlessly into calming periods of quiet reflection. It's records like these that restore my faith in humanity and remind me why I got into this business in the first place. June 6... mark it down.