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Issue:July 2010 Year: 2010

Louisville Indie Pop for the People

Several Hundred People (Independent)
Several Hundred People

Come, all ye fans of early R.E.M. and the Athens sound, or of low-fi pop everywhere. Several Hundred People is calling your name.

This Louisville quintet has released a debut album that immediately makes one want to listen to Murmur again, or maybe to dig through that vinyl in the basement in search of that old Pylon record your mom may or may not have thrown out. Heck, I even hear some Possum Dixon in the vocal delivery. Remember Possum Dixon?

Don't get me wrong: I mean all this as a compliment, because that early-1980s underground pop was great stuff. SHP actually reminds me of another local indie-pop act called the Broadfield Marchers, who were featured in last November's Louisville Music News. The songs are lyrically off-beat, the music lives, and it becomes very easy to get drawn into this album.

"Happy Little Boy" is a relentlessly haunting song with a thumping bass line that somehow breaks through and leads the way, along with the accompaniment of drummer Brian DeSpain's relentless high-hat.

And Lee Troutman's lead vocals weave a frantic, almost disconcerting element of uneasiness throughout this album. There are moments when his vocal inflections much the way David Byrne did during the Talking Heads' early days. If the vocals were delivered straight, the songs would not thrive the way they do here.

The band also offers moments of wry humor, such as with "My Girl is Crazy." The lyric is delivered as an ironic love ballad. Troutman sings, "I'm under your spell / Does that mean I'll go to hell?"

The piano-driven, country-fried "The Old Witch" works similarly as a character story about an insane old woman. "The Years Gone By" takes us into the mind of a box of keepsakes, and what the contents say about the owner. Besides, how many bands can write a power-pop song about being eaten by a giant spider and make you want to dance ("Spider")? Or write as heartfelt a ballad as you'll ever hear about marijuana ("Weed")?

You get the picture: Get out and pick up this CD now. And don't let your mom toss it out with your Pylon records, either.

Find out more at severalhundredpeople.com.

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