July 15, 2006

The Submarines "Declare a New State!"

A note to all record labels that send out advanced Cd-Roms for promos: KEEP TRACK OF WHAT IT IS YOU ARE DOING! Since I started this website, I have received four burned CD's that were NOT what they were supposed to be. One was a live recording of some acoustic folk-singer type, one was a duplicate copy of another record in the same package, and one was a copy of The Chronic! Most recently, I received a white sleeve Cd-R (and no bio!) copy of the debut album by The Submarines from their label, Nettwerk. When I received it, I put it in my car stereo, and the first thing I heard was some bland, boring sub-par dance/punk ripoff of The Faint. Ugh. Toss it in the 'NO WAY' pile! Never even finished listening to the first song, that's how unappealing it was. When I received a regular copy of it about three weeks later, I simply set it aside, with no intention of ever listening to it.

A few weeks ago, I was completely shocked to discover that this band was the husband and wife duo of Blake Hazard and Jack Dragonetti. I thought, "dang, those two talents have really fallen from grace, if they're eschewing their skills in order to make such mediocre music!" It took a friendly mention in the newsletter of Hazard's former label for me to discover the truth behind this band's identity, and it was what prompted me to return to the record, just to see that this was the same band. So I pulled out Declare A New State! again, and wow.

This time, listening to a Submarines CD proved to be a delight. Sound-wise, the band is nowhere close to being the crap that I assumed it was. Instead, it's more akin to Hazard's solo debut album, Little Airplane, with hints of Jack Drag's mellower moments. The temptation to throw these guys in with other indie-pop spousal duos like Mates of State or The Like Young should be avoided, as they sound like neither. Their sound is mellower, and Hazard's songs (which make up the majority of the material here) remind me of the recent output of The Cardigans, especially the drop-dead gorgeous "Ready or Not" and "The Good Night." Dragonetti's songs are a bit more varied, with a Beatlesque tint that I like a lot, and a touch of country-rock fun, too; his "Modern Inventions" recalls The Earlies and is one of his best songs to date.

Declare a New State! is a wonderfully simple, mellow record from two masterful musicians, and its beauty more than makes up for the initial error in identity. A pleasanter record, you couldn't imagine…

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