The opening notes of the lead-off “Might as Well” bring visions of a child ready to run and dance, shout and throw leaves in the air. All the while a young couple, holding hands, steals glances.
This eponymous debut CD by Something For Rockets is a walk in the park, urging movement in as wide as space as possible. Yet I’m stuck at my desk today and I’m left to wriggle in my seat, bobbing my head slightly.
After listening, it’s wild to think that singer Rami Perlman is the son of violin virtuoso Itzhak Perlman, though one would have to say he’s not quite as high on life as Norah Jones, the offspring of another string genuis, Ravi Shankar.
I don’t know how or if that patriarchal relationship informs the music here, except there’s clearly an appreciation for trying to inspire a mood. The overall sound is pushing and syncopated synths that weave in and out, under and over casual-as-a-drive-by vocals.
“The Line” is a tune destined for a baller remix, adorned with extra bass and “hep hep” chants in the backround: “It’s a Line that you never want to cross. Don’t give me that Line (lying?) anymore.” The broken relationship tale starts with the quiet, building sound of a marching army of 10,000 privates still a mile away, but coming nearer. Acoustic guitar fingering, reminiscent of Metallica’s “One” for its sparsity, fades in and we’re away.
“Hypnotic dance-floor beats” the band calls it. With melody. Many of the songs start so quiet, you feel yourself leaning into your (computer in my case), ears tuned in. Some of the drum-machine-and-synth intros sound like the mood music in sci-fi adventure Nintendo games. Especially “Tragic City,” “Look Around” and “Dancefloor.” That maybe sounds insulting but it’s just how it is.
Take a look around the sidewalk is burning. You can hear the sound of everyone conversing. …
Take a look around this bed here is burning. You can hear the sound of you and I rehearsing.
“Look Around” sounds like something I’ve heard before, welcome as a forgotten $20 bill pulled out of a pair of bottom-of-the-closet trousers. (Another candidate for a dance remix.) : Everybody’s taking you out. Everybody’s bringing you down. Everybody wants your name. … But I’m just here tonight, to try and make you feel alright. Everybody wants your name.
“Red in the Face” is about as rock and roll as the band gets on this disc, as the guitars take over the first half of the song. Then, like an impatient man on a packed escalator, a progressive rock sound pushes its way forward, briefcase swinging. A child’s chant echoes to the end of the song. In the last few louder seconds, as the rest of the song disappears, you realize it’s the femine side of the bands fans, probably recorded at a concert.
It’s tempting to think “Everybody Loves A lot” is about Rami’s father with the refrain: “Everybody love a lot; you’re not always there.” But though that’s very Hollywood, there’s no evidence of this anywhere throughout the dozen songs. It’s just as tempting to stop speculating about what could be and listen to what is.
Just like the rest of the disc, “Everybody …” is energetic without being 200 beats per second, tranquil without allowing your eyelids to droop for a second. They’ve found the right balance.
To be honest, the band’s new to me and I’m not even sure who does what here. Perlman met Josh Eichenbaum at Brown University. They both hoofed it to LA and dragged in former drummer Barry Davis who doesn’t pound that instrument here, that I can tell. Since then, SFR’s been building some LA cred (I don’t think that’s an oxymoron, yet) the old-fashioned way – by playing live.
On March 18 they’ll hit SXSW in Austin, in the middle of a mini-tour of the country.
The Rockets buzz will grow. And they’ll ….
• You can buy and hear tracks from the CD on streaming audio at the band’s Web site. The band is already writing for their next CD, “Drop of Love.”
The Sets, Tempe, Az – March 12
Nunos, SXSW showcase 8 p.m., Austin, TX March 18
frees show – The Pub (Rice University) Houston, TX March 21
free show – The Whitewater Tavern – Little Rock, AR March 22
Spanish Moon, Baton Rouge, LA March 23
Lenny’s, Atlanta, GA March 24
The Mercury Lounge, NYC, April 1