Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Reviews:: Retribution Gospel Choir

I've been wanting to review this record for about a week now, but I was going to tie it in with the upcoming release of Mark Kozalek's solo record in some sort of super sized package. Unfortunately, April is not the type of record you can just hastily throw down some thoughts on after a few listens.

Anyway, the tie-in of course is that Kozalek used to be in Retribution Gospel Choir, but decided to strictly turn the knobs as the producer for the debut full-length. Essentially, that meant turning the dials all the way to the right and letting Alan Sparhawk (front man of Low) and his fellow band mates (Eric Pollard and Matt Livingston) experiment with distortion and feedback.

Admittedly, I've never been much of a Low fan (the melodic minimal stuff just never really resonated), but I think this new output really works for Sparhawk. Simply comparing the version of Breaker the band included on this release shows the differences. Instead of hand claps, drum machines and minimal synths, the 2-minute song is heavy and thick with a familiar Crazy Horse sludge.

That kind of holds true for the entire effort. The trio toes the line between classic rock and metal, but somehow still makes it pleasing to the ear with hints of pop (Holes in Your Head is a perfect example). The record is full of quick hitting tracks, usually not breaking the three minute mark, but the songs feel complete and leave you with that great feeling of exhaustion. The record doesn't float by unnoticed, instead it forces you to listen. Riffs grip you instantly - like Somebody's Someone - but the reverb and weight sticks around for days.

Destroyer uses huge drums and distortion to fill out Sparhawk's swirling vocals, giving the track on some old slab of vinyl that was recommended by the old guy at the record store. Seriously, this album is thick(e)r than Alan. From the road trip ready What She Turned Into to the plodding Kids, the trio really seems comfortable in an this exploration, but makes the mistake of going too far to come back. The songs are pure, instead of the cliché you might expect.

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Posted at 4:36 PM by ack :: 0 comments

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