What better way to introduce a couple of bands to people than through the cheap split CD EP? Sure, the split 7" or split 10" is still a good choice, but if you want to offer up more than a mere brief taste, the CD is the obvious choice. Of course, the other side of an introduction split EP is that it's also best to contain some music that won't be available on the upcoming full lengths, so that if you like the band in question, you won't end up with two copies of the same music (which this release also does). Although Blanket Music has already released one album and been featured on several other samplers, this sampler teams them up with one of the newest artists on the label and because of singer crossover, it actually works as more of a cohesive piece than one might expect.
Noise For Pretend takes the first half of the release mix a touch of jazz into their sometimes breezy, sometimes sultry pop songs. Lead singer Esperanza Spalding rightly takes front and center on each track (and rightly so), with breathy vocals that sound somewhat like Bebel Gilberto. Whether she's singing about ladykillers ("Pants With His Halfway Down") or nothing but be-bops ("Money Penny"), her torch song voice will have you wondering what they'll do next.
Keeping sort of the same feel going, Blanket Music also creates a warm set of pop tunes, but they fall a bit more into bossa nova territory with the addition of electronic percussion and rhythms to the lineup. I know it's been mentioned in several reviews of the group before, but lead singer Chad Crouch sounds uncannily like Stuart Murdoch of Belle And Sebastian. While there may not be an immediate crossover appeal, Blanket Music can write unpretentious little ditties with the best of them (the chorus of "Hips" especially may find itself embedded in your head for days).
For only 6 dollars, this EP is a nice way to pick up some excellent new music and hear some upcoming bands in the process. Basically, Hush Records has again gotten things correct on this new, 8-song disc with almost 30 minutes of music. It also serves the real purpose of an EP, which is get you excited for the full-length (or in this case, two different) release.