Labels use a variety of tactics to get a writer to notice a record. One of the most effective techniques — especially to the freelancer with a day job and limited time — is the old RIYL package sticker. It’s a quick reference that allows me, within a glance, to determine if I’m about to listen to speed metal, drum n’ bass, or indie rock. It works. And it’s the main reason why I grabbed Similar Anniversaries by Portland’s Small Sails before I hopped on the train to work.

I won’t get all effusive about how I love what they do — the post should cover that — but I do think that SK has stumbled into it’s character because of an alarmingly rich year in music that melds both electronic and traditional instrumentation. And 2007 is starting off even more profoundly. Small Sails’ take on mostly-instrumental future-pop is a very accessible one, and they hop around the musical spectrum sounding all Chicago-y (think Tortoise, Sea Cake) during some songs and more 4/4 beat-oriented at others. The track that I posted is automatic for SK: acoustic guitars, vibraphone, tight snare break, melodic as fuck. They are definitely a quartet to look out for and I’m lucky and honored to have stumbled upon this excellent disk.

RIYL: The Album Leaf, Postprior, The Six Parts Seven, The Mercury Program, Mum, Mice Parade, Minotaur Shock

Read:, Small Sails’ MySpace Page

Buy: Pre-order Similar Anniversaries at Insound for a March 27th release