Thursday, July 2, 2009

New and Notable: Elizabeth and the Catapult

My introduction to the debut album from Elizabeth and the Catapult came after a fair amount of avoidance on my part, though I can't say exactly why. Perhaps it was my lukewarm reaction to the record's first single or the sheer amount of female pop albums being thrown my way of late, but until a copy showed up in the mail I was missing out on Taller Children, a more than solid album from an exciting new band. Fortunately I've caught up and I'm passing on the good word to you; Elizabeth Ziman and company are a group you should hear whether you, like me, have passed on the opportunity or simply missed any mention of them so far.

During my first listen, Taller Children surprised me by being much more of a classic pop album than I had expected after hearing a couple early tracks. Though there are some quirky 'indie' moments like the bouncy "Race You" or the aforementioned "Taller Children," much of the record is of a more vocal-centered, singer/songwriter persuasion. Ziman's crystal-clear voice breathes life into the more settled, gentler pieces, especially the gorgeous "Apathy" and the subtly sexy "Rainiest Day of Summer," though she's especially alluring on the group's Leonard Cohen cover "Everybody Knows." Meanwhile, the band more than earn their 'Catapult' namesake, giving each of their frontwoman's tunes a welcome lift by covering territory from folk ("Complimentary Me") to orchestral piano rock ("Hit the Wall") with apparent ease and obvious talent.

Though Elizabeth and the Catapult may occasionally sound a bit too much like any number of their female songwriter contemporaries (Sara Bareilles, Fiona Apple, etc.), their inventiveness and more exploratory nature sets Taller Children apart as more than just a simple retelling of a familiar stylistic story. You can download a track from the album below and make sure you check out the band's MySpace page to hear more.

Taller Children (Zipped MP3)