Tiny Animals - Our Own Time
Record Label: North Street Records
Release Date: April 5, 2011
Several months ago I asked a message board online to suggest me some catchy indie rock bands. I forget who exactly they told me to check out because none of their suggestions were very good. However now I wish someone would have told me to check out Tiny Animals, because they are basically what I was looking for. Even though they consider themselves a "power-pop trio" which is probably a correct term, I personally consider them to be just one catchy ass band, whether you call them power-pop, indie, or something else. If you are ever at a party where people don't want to listen to rap music (a rarity in my life) and just want some fun music to dance to, I think this album would fit the bill quite nicely.
In the spirit of full disclosure, I am pretty obsessed with female vocalists and only decided to give Tiny Animals a listen when I saw there was a girl in the band. Of course while there is in fact a female in the band, she is not the vocalist, she is the drummer (though she does throw in some background vocals here and there). This however isn't a bad thing since lead vocalist Chris Howerton has a very smooth and solid voice. Once you start to listen to Our Own Time the first song gives you a pretty good idea of what you are getting yourself into. Not only is the first song indicative of what Tiny Animals are as a band, it is also one of the best songs on the album. "Fight of Flight" starts off innocent enough, with a slow building rhythm, but after you listen to it a few times you will most likely find yourself subconsciously humming it for days to come.
One thing I really like about Tiny Animals is their use of background vocals and vocal harmonies. They don't overuse them and force them into places where they don't fit like some other bands do. Instead they use them selectively, only when they add to and improve a song. Sometimes you don't really notice they are there at first due to the fact that they fit in so well with the songs. I particularly like the vocal harmonies used in the track "The Moment" which is a song I would normally find pretty boring (it is rather slow compared to the rest of the album), but the use of harmonies in it gives it a deep and layered feel.
Lyrically I would say Tiny Animals write about real life. That might sound vague but it's the best way I can think to describe it. Their music is not full of vague metaphors and obscure topics. Their lyrics are about things people can relate to, such as relationships (good and bad), which is probably the reason their music has been played during several MTV reality shows. The songs were played on those reality shows because the lyrics fit what is happening on screen and what actually happens in real life. I think that is also makes the lyrics come off as authentic. I think a good example of their lyrical content comes from the chorus of the stand out track of the album "Wait For Me" which is: “Darling, tell me you love me/Always, I'll be your man forever/Never forget these old days/Wait for me, won't you.”
One minor complaint I have with the album as a whole deals with the production. To me there seems to be a slight distortion over the entire album, mainly with the lead vocals. It sort of reminds me of how vocals sound in songs by The Strokes. Hopefully that makes sense to someone and I am not just hearing things...
Don't let the fact that Tiny Animals music has been featured on The Real World and 16 and Pregnant turn you off from checking them out. After all, their music was selected to be played on those shows for a reason, and that reason is that it is catchy and pretty damn good. So if you feel like bobbing your head and maybe dancing around your room a little bit in the future, put on some Tiny Animals, it will get the job done.