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Central Services – Straddling Indie-Pop’s Line in the Sand

Posted by October 26th, 2005 No Comments »

Central Services
(Self-titled demo)
By Christian K

Somewhere in the world of indie pop lyrics there is a line in the sand: on this side are A.C. Newman of the New Pornographers, Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy, and others who prove that less is more through the use of indirection and poetic license. On the far side of the line we find Lou Barlow, Ben Gibbard, Smog’s Bill Callahan, and John Darnielle of the Mountain Goats. These folks don’t beat around the bush – they write “confessional” songs that are supposed to go straight for the jugular, but more often trigger the gag reflex.

Central Services is a Seattle band that seems to be standing on that line, deciding whether to jump across.

Central Services
(Self-titled demo)
By Christian K

Somewhere in the world of indie pop lyrics there is a line in the sand: on this side are A.C. Newman of the New Pornographers, Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy, and others who prove that less is more through the use of indirection and poetic license. On the far side of the line we find Lou Barlow, Ben Gibbard, Smog’s Bill Callahan, and John Darnielle of the Mountain Goats. These folks don’t beat around the bush – they write “confessional” songs that are supposed to go straight for the jugular, but more often trigger the gag reflex.

Central Services is a Seattle band that seems to be standing on that line, deciding whether to jump across.

If anyone could have it both ways, it’s singer/songwriter Kevin Emerson, who leads Central Services with lovely diminished chord progressions and a twee breathy voice guaranteed to make the indie girls swoon. Their five-song demo disc was made with acoustic guitars, a laid back rhythm section, and some fine fuzzy noodling by guitarist Damien Koemans. Eric Goetz completes the picture with some organ sounds.

The disc as a whole is rough (not surprising for a band’s first demo), with some rather barren spots and a few “experiments” that should probably have been avoided, but it is a good snapshot of an emerging pop group with high hopes and a few nice hooks.

Are the songs good? Well, the first one, “She’s My Ride,” is a precious tale about a junior-high school friend of the singer, who comes out to him as a lesbian. Emerson muses about the situation: “Up until then I never / thought about the way life has / of putting you with people that you need to be with / at the time.” Then, the climactic moment of confession: “She told me she was in love with Sara / I’m in love with Sara / So am I in love with Sara / We are both in love with Sara”.

If this is the sort of thing that charms you and makes you want to dream the afternoon away in your darkened room, then by all means get a copy of the disc and go to some Central Services shows. They have the potential to be very popular, and their style of music is going over huge right now within the indie rock establishment. If this isn’t your cup of tea, well, better turn off your college radio, because It’s not going away anytime soon. – (5/10)


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