Sonic Reducer: Katherine Farnham • Living Hour • Adult Books

Geoffrey Plant
3 min read
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Not sure what to make of this one. Hey, how about a stage name. Farnham sounds like someone that fell off the turnip truck. Parts of Vintage sound like the soundtrack to an upbeat Gay Pride event while other songs have a ’70s soul vibe. Overall, there’s an emulation of the “adult contemporary” music of the ‘80s. Occasionally multi-language vocals, a sometimes melancholy tilt to the lyrics (mostly love songs), saxophone accents and make-out-music bass and drums drop her squarely in what we music critics call the “vintage urban late night love music” genre. Farnham has a wonderful soul-singer voice that ranges from Aretha to Sade in character. In fact many of these tunes are very much in the style of the skinny Ms. Adu. You know when Barry White’s voice is just making her giggle? Try throwing Vintage on. Better yet, just go with Sade from the get go.

Living Hour Living Hour (Lefse)

The music of Canadian shoegaze/dream-pop group, Living Hour, is apparently inspired by the big blue skies—sound familiar?—above their hometown of Winnipeg, Manitoba. Living Hour’s music does reflect the slower pace and sense of possibility that comes with big horizons, uncloudy days and endless landscapes. The big, enveloping sound this quintet achieves through their slow, droney rhythms, heavy vibrato guitar and lots of reverb is evidence that the group is more than the sum of its parts. Vocalist Samantha Sarty is an aural dead ringer for Cat Power’s Chan Marshall and lyrics about staring at the sun and alien visitors is the cherry on top of the biggest banana split ever. If you like understated guitar solos that sound like sunsets, Living Hour’s debut album is worth checking out.

Adult Books Running from the Blows (Lolipop Records/Burger Recor)

Adult Books’ second release—and first LP—is a nice, tight package of garage-pop numbers that feature the group still playing straight-up punk rock, but now with an even poppier bent. While the band’s evolution means songs like “Firewalking” sound less like FIDLAR and more like The Cure, Running from the Blows should please old and new fans alike. Adult Books’ overall character is still so very California punk that the only aspect of this album that might confuse original fans is the ubiquitous New Order “Age of Consent” guitar licks and the odd tune that sounds like an ’80s MTV, new wave pop hit. It’s all good though bro, because Adult Books hasn’t departed from their faster, harder sound, they just got better at playing and writing songs. Melodic sing-alongs like “Silver Lake Goths,” “Suburban Girlfriend” and “Running From the Blows” confirm this is the sound of today’s California punk music.

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