Saloon (This Is) What We Call Progress

Reading, UK might not be the most exotic of locales, yet it has managed to produce a band like Saloon. These four individuals make vast, sweeping pop soundscapes that feature layer upon layer of delicate sounds that add up to something very special indeed. Anchoring the whole sound is the voice of Amanda Gomez, who sometimes sings in English, but at other times it might be French or Spanish, but it really doesn't matter because the vocals integrate readily into the various instruments, and so it can be hard to work out which language is being used. With a strange mix of instruments, including viola, guitars, glockenspiel and a wealth of keyboards and other electronic noisemakers, Saloon have a sound that isn't exactly unique, yet it isn't completely familiar either. By the time you listen to the complete album, you'll have heard moments that have reminded you of Stereolab, the Velvet Underground, Beth Orton and the Gentle Waves. And that's just on the first listen; each subsequent one will reveal more layers, more depth and pull you further under its powerful spell. Most other bands wish they could be this cool and make such wonderful music sound so effortless. Saloon can, and they do. Embrace them. (Darla)