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The Pica Beats: Beating Back The Claws Of The Cold [Album Review]

The Pica Beats

Written by Fense

I’m reading a little note by a key force behind Hardly Art Records, the label releasing The Pica Beats (MySpace) sophomore album, Beating Back The Claws Of The Cold, today. I usually don’t quote press releases, but this one is both important and relevant:

If there’s one thing I love about this label, it is being able to introduce bands that no one knew existed.

And it’s true. I hadn’t known about Le Loup or Pretty & Nice (the latter will hit later this year), or even their set of local Seattle bands. The list: Arthur & Yu, The Moondoggies, and, of course, The Pica Beats. That is, I didn’t know about any of them until the Hardly Art introduction.

Like many off the Hardly Art lineup, The Pica Beats dabble in the blurry edges of folk, and mix into it light elements of pop and a few seemingly random influences from the 60s and 70s. No matter how different the artists are, they all seem to have these things in common.

In comparison to the rest of Hardly Art’s small but growing lineup, The Pica Beats are most like Artur & Yu. They’ve got a few more members, so their sound is undoubtedly fuller, but their music has similar pleasantries and is notably soft in nature (if not always in volume) compared to artists like The Moondoggies and The Dutchess & The Duke, both of which have a noted ruggedness. Instead, their laid back sound features orchestration, ranging from foreign instruments to classics like Trumpet (one of the more common instruments on Beating Back The Claws.

Songs like opener “Poor Old Ra” and “Shrinking Violets” may be a bit louder (due to the aforementioned orchestration), but the majority hit the soft note, like the title track and “Summer Cutting Cale”. A classic example of The Pica Beats’ sound can be found in the calming swagger behind “Hikikomori & The Rental Sisters”; you’ll hear a plush, full sound that’s both calm and sophisticated—it even includes a sitar.

So it’s easy to trust Hardly Art—they are consistent in that each new album will (i) be a group I’ll enjoy, (ii) have some relation to the folk genre, and (iii) not be traditional in the traditional sense, but will include elements of more traditional influences.

The Pica Beats: Poor Old Ra [mp3]
[audio:0923_the_pica_beats_-_poor_old_ra.mp3|titles=Poor Old Ra|artists=The Pica Beats]

Beating Back The Claws Of The Cold by The Pica Beats

Hardly Art Records [CD, 2008]

1. Poor Old Ra
2. Martine, As Heavy Lifter
3. Summer Cutting Kale
4. Shrinking Violets
5. Beta.Space.Hit
6. Beating Back The Claws Of The Cold
7. Cognac & Rum
8. Hope, Was Not Smith Family Tradition
9. Hikikomori & The Rental Sisters
10. Shallow Dive
11. Territoire

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