County Grind is counting down 2011's best local albums in South Florida. Monitor our progress here.
Plains' self-titled debut album is damn near perfect. Leader Michael McGinnis has crafted 41minutes of music that begs to be looped endlessly. The melodies of this Miami rock outfit float higher than Damon Albarn's soaring coda in "Beetlebum."
It is important to note that Plains is not a Blur rip-off, and this is no Britpop revival. But, McGinnis does have Albarn's best vocal qualities: the whispered croon, the cracked falsetto and syllables that sound bone dry and deeply saddened -- all in the same breath.
The build-up intro of "End Of The World" gives just enough time for the listeners to strap themselves in safely into the Plains Space Shuttle. As McGinnis sings about not wanting to "be a satellite" in "Poor Little Space Monkey" it's not hard to imagine gliding through the thermosphere and looking down on our sunny state. Beneath the hooks and guitars that sound like synths - or synths that sound like guitars - there's a sense of impending doom. Luckily, Plains' sweet and sour harmonies act as a parachute to make sure we land safely.
On "Sleep Deprived" McGinnis sounds like he's realizing his life is passing him by. He manages to sing the line "I still can't find you in my sleep" with equal parts desperation and self-assurance. The somber tone spills into "Innovator," but on "Black Feeling" the cloud hanging over his head starts to break.
All of the songs are strategically sequenced, the foot-stomping rock of "Stains" fits in perfectly with the theatrical bombast of "Judy." In that sense, the album has a bit of a Ziggy Stardust vibe -- "Break You Up" is practically Plains' Glades Odyssey.
The stylistic change ups and the production value are great, but, the best parts of the record come from the delivery and performance. Everything emotes on this record, from the tambourines to the guitar effects. Plains doesn't just tell us how McGinnis feels, it shows us.