Friday, December 9, 2011

Sub Pop Defy Tradition

When one thinks of the label Sub Pop one can't help but think of two things...Nirvana and Grunge. While the label has, obviously, spread its wings over the last twenty or so years, they continue to be associated with cutting edge alternative and indie rock. It therefore comes as a huge surprise to listen to the two releases sitting right before me. The first one, Aurelio's Laru Beya is about a half a world away from Seattle and anything related to grunge. The second one, Daniel Martin Moore's In The Cool Of The Day, might have some flannel running through it, but it's more the deep woods countrified folk kind of thing. Together these two releases show that Sub Pop refuses to be pigeonholed as a label and is unafraid to sign anything that tickles its fancy.

Aurelio's Laru Beya is a sunshiny, breezy, world pop record that has jazzy overtones. It's light, gorgeous and will bring out the explorer in everyone. The way in Aurelio constructs his songs lends itself to his being on Honduras' Caribbean coast. Steeped in Garifuna traditions, the album sounds like a trip across continents as African and Caribbean roots combine forces to fuse a sound that is both relaxing and beautiful. While not necessarily up Sub Pop's alley, this record is a fantastic listen that keeps the traditions of Garifuna alive and hopes to preserve them for future generations. Judging by Laru Beya he should achieve those goals.

On the other side of the aisle is Daniel Martin Moore who takes the singer songwriter template and mixes it up with a bit of home spun folk, bluegrass, and quiet walks on the weekend. In The Cool Of The Day is a lazy Sunday kind of record that plays more like the ideal background record than something that's urgent and demands to be heard. That's not to say that the record isn't good, rather its charms are more subtle and wins you over as it gently strums it's way across the eleven songs that make it up. In The Cool Of The Day is shy, quiet, and easy going and unlike most other folk or singer songwriter albums, Moore isn't afraid to play with tempos, instrumentation, and emotions. He offers a striking and nifty record that wouldn't sound out of place at Lake Woebegone and as part of Prairie Home Companion.

While these albums may not rawk in the way Sub Pop always have, they may in fact rock more simply because of their originality and emotional outpourings and that's what the label has always been about.

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