03/07 – 09/07 (Thrill Jockey)
The duo High Places defies categorization. This collection of recordings previously available on 7-inch vinyl or exclusive to the 'Net has the uncanny ability to not only get you dancing, but to also serve as suitable listening while reading a good book before bed.
Loopmaestro/percussionist Rob Barber and singer Mary Pearson benefited from early exposure on the all-powerful, indie-zeitgeist-defining Pitchforkmedia.com. And the attention is well deserved. While it might be tempting to draw comparisons to similarly tribal-beats-meet-spacey-atmospherics-meet-cheap-electronics-happy artists (and likewise Pitchfork darlings) such as Animal Collective, Atlas Sound or even L.A.'s Health, High Places resides in a musical space all its own. First off, they're just too damn pretty for any of those comparisons to really hold up. There's a refreshing lack of angst to Pearson's dreamy, childlike melodies.
Secondly (and unfortunately), compared to those groups, it's harder to see how High Places' sound might hope to evolve in the future. Their debut full-length, out Sept. 23, promises to offer more of the same. That's all well and good, considering that, combined, the two albums will still stand out as completely unique entries in any record collection. But the misleadingly simplistic layering of clicking beats, washy bleeps and echoey yet dry vocals may inevitably lock the group into too tight a formula.
But why worry about that now? The honeymoon is far from over. Now is the time to fall in love with one of the most refreshing listens of 2008.