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Pearl Harbor


Puro Instinct


Gloriette Records

Release Date:


Reviewed by:

After being impressed with Puro Instinct's live show opening for Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti last month, i tracked down their latest EP. This is only about 15 minutes worth of music, but i found some interesting things out while doing my research. First off, the vocalist and the guitarist at the concert are siblings, and, in fact, are the entire band. The others who performed with them, including that talented bassist, are "hired guns" for the sake of touring. Oh, and that guitarist, the one i thought was someone's kid when i first saw her at The EARL, is, in fact, only 14 years old!

Her name is Skyler Kaplan, and i guess she is some kind of guitar prodigy. She formed the band, originally called Pearl Harbor, with her older sister, Piper. (Note: They are obviously from California, as the names indicate.) Together, the two of them have recorded two EPs. This is the second one, meaning that Skyler was 13 years old when she and her sister released their Something About the Chaparrals EP last year.

And here i was feeling pretty good about myself that i had a successful music writing career by 35. Damned kids these days. You Puro Instinct girls stay the hell outta my apple tree or I'll tell your parents!

Anyway, this is a pretty good EP. Live, the expanded Puro Instinct came across as a sort of new wave act with rich female vocals. I compared the vocals to Siouxsie Sioux, and the guitar interplay to Felt.

Well, the music on the EP, being done by 1/3 of the live band, comes across as a little more sparse. It is still heavily steeped in the 1980s, a decade during which, i feel i must point out, neither of the band members was alive. After several listens, i have come to the conclusion that is the simplistic bass programming and cheesy drum machine that makes this sound so 1980s. The bass is a tapped rhythm, and the drumming has that flat, sparse, O.M.D. circa 1986 feel.

Piper does a good job with her vocals, singing through a mass of echo, and young Skyler is a pretty good guitarist. She is no Eddie Van Halen, but the guitarwork is interesting. She plays lightly, arpeggios with a hint of distortion. Again i am reminded of Maurice Deebank's work with early Felt. Not enough people play like this anymore. Good for her.

There are four songs here, so let's go over each briefly. Can't Take You Anywhere uses hand-clapped percussion samples. This sounds like Siouxsie singing for INXS circa The Swing. On Slivers of You, Skyler's minimal guitar takes center stage over a beat that the band lifted from a Billy Ocean tune. California Shakedown adds a spooky "oohing" keyboard bit, but otherwise is very similar to the previous tune. And finally there is I've Got Some Happiness which is a cover of a tune by an act called Leland, who i have never heard of. This song sounds very much like Beach House, with gobs of echo dripping off the vocals, as the two sisters harmonize over a simple drum machine beat and some crazy synths.

Overall, this is a pleasant little EP. It is dreamy and hazy and fuzzy, which is something i tend to like in music. Given the extreme young age of the band, it will be interesting to see where they go from here. If you still like new wave, then this is an EP you will want to check out.

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   Concert: Fri.30.Aug.10


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