Broadcast is caught in technology. They create their music through a series of sliced and distorted 1’s and 0’s resulting in a vast landscape of atmospheric and distant sound that is cold and ethereal. But the band longs to be a part of humanity, so they bang against the computer screen and break through to the outside world by coating their electronics with warmth and soul. Singer Trish Keenan exposes her vulnerability to the outside with soft innocent vocals similar to The Cardigans’ Nina Persson, while bassist James Cargill soothes an embryonic lullaby.
The first track on their latest album, “HAHA Sound,” “Colour Me In,” twinkles like an old music box that plays its nursery rhyme warped and out of tune. “Pendulum” uncovers much of the band’s detachment from humanity. The guitars resonate a rigid pounding beat as Keenan’s “ahhhs” wobble over the top. “Before We Begin” and “Valerie” find the band perfectly balanced as Keenan’s vocals delicately entwine with the band and their samples. When Broadcast does come together, the result is lovely.
While Broadcast struggles with finding humanity within technology, Samuel Beam’s solo project Iron and Wine does just the opposite. Iron and Wine seems to have no contact with technology except for maybe an AM radio and a dusty phonograph.
Iron and Wine makes the rest of the world disappear. Beam’s voice is a soft whisper that carries the same sense of seclusion as Nick Drake. The low-fi recording gives the impression Beam never even left his bedroom to make his first full length, “The Creek Drank the Cradle.” His lightly strummed guitar squeaks ever so softly as his fingers slide down the strings for an old southern blues touch.
The new Iron and Wine EP, “The Sea & the Rhythm,” ventures out into the world a bit more. “Beneath the Balcony” croons, “Let’s go out and dance, darling” despite the calamity of humankind. “Jesus the Mexican Boy” is one of Beam’s best and exemplifies his tender songwriting when the song ends, “Kissing my head like a brother and never asking why.”
Though Broadcast and Iron and Wine are quite opposed to each other, musically speaking, they both craft beautifully captivating melodies. And most importantly, they’ve found a similar method of hiding from humanity, yet they still need it enough to timidly poke their heads out and take a look around. Friday night they come together and face the world.