Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Recent Reviews

To break from the norm, here's a few reviews I did that featured in some mags recently.

Sholi – Sholi (Quarterstick/ Touch & Go)

Californian trio Sholi keep their alt-rock credentials firmly in check by enlisting Deerhoof sticksman Greg Saunier as the producer of their eponymous debut album. While they may not be seeped in the chaotic spirit of Saunier’s mob, Sholi aren’t exactly straightforward.

Indeed, from the opening strains of “All That We Can See” they prove they have their own dabbling percussive power in Jonathan Bafus. Over the course of the following seven tracks, Sholi brew up dreamy textures, with time-changes that may be jagged but never harsh.

Another secret weapon that filters out as Sholi progresses is the power of frontman Payam Bavafa’s vocals; on the record’s most rambunctious number “Any Other God”, he heads for Jeff Buckley territory, without sounding jaded.

On the basis of this, Sholi will be grabbing plenty of attention, with or without the blessing of others in the alt-circle.

8/10

*Appears in this month's AU Magazine



Parts & Labor – Receivers (Jagjaguwar)

For an outfit who probably got their name after a disgruntled trip to their local car garage, it’s not startling that there is an almost mechanical sound to Parts & Labor’s fourth album Receivers.

From the bagpipe-esque opening keyboard strains of “Satellites”, manipulation of equipment and sound is the name of the game as this Brooklyn four-piece weld their succulent brand of experimental noise-rock with a chastening flood of pop flashes.

Since predecessor Mapmaker, there have been changes aplenty in the P&L camp; rambunctious sticksman Christopher Weingarten left the fold, with the more restrained Joe Wong coming in, while Sarah Lipstate is now officially on the teamsheet on guitar duties, joining founders Dan Friel and B.J. Warshaw, who tag-team vocal duties throughout.

The personnel switches have had an effect. Receivers is the sound of a band immersed in wildly focussed synchronicity. Nothing is getting left on the floor here; from the bubbling tension of early post-punk in the wailing of “Mount Misery” to the Dan Deacon-if-he-was-an-artrocker spurt that is “Nowhere’s Nigh”, all the bells and whistles are fully intact.

Equal parts catchy as it is experimental, Receivers is a twisty affair that keeps you gripped by its unpredictability. Heck, it even sounds anthemic at times, and in the likes of “Little Ones”, they may have just recorded the tracks that will not just earn them the critical clams of peers like TVOTR, but open up the wider public to them too.

4/5

*Appears in the current State online edition and website.

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