Released in the wake of the tragedy in Orlando last weekend, with all proceeds going to benefit The Pulse Tragedy Community Fund, City Beautiful collects demos and rarities from bands local to Orlando, offering a snapshot of the city’s music scene.
To be sure, City Beautiful only captures a certain segment of Orlando’s music: specifically, bands who land squarely within contemporary indie rock’s aesthetic boundaries. The tone is mostly elegiac: “Words of Wisdom,” from Henrietta, is a somber, deeply-felt acoustic ballad that recalls the quieter moments of Pedro the Lion. You Blew It! follow a similar path; their acoustic rendering of “Award of the Year Award” brings out the tenderness at the song’s center, guitars spiraling slowly in the background like leaves in a soft breeze. And Europa’s “Elegy (Reimagined)” sets Santiago Mesa’s delicate, high-arcing vocals over a backdrop of aqueous electronics.
The uptempo tracks provide balance. “Colombiana” from Boxing at the Zoo, whose Chase Bauduin assembled the compilation, combines the skipping joy of Vampire Weekend with a dizzying, loop-de-loop melody; and “If I’m Sorry,” from Baby!, pits dusky, grinding guitar against an aching vocal melody. Taken as a whole, City Beautiful serves as both an introductory letter to Orlando’s burgeoning indie scene, and a way to help those in that city who need it most right now.
—J. Edward Keyes