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 V.22 No.5 | January 31 - February 6, 2013 

Sonic Reducer

Foxygen We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic (Jagjaguwar)

Were there any magic in this world, the Northern Hemisphere would shake off winter like a puffy coat, skip spring altogether and leap into a Haight-Ashbury heat wave with one play of Foxygen's latest. Produced by musical Swiss Army knife Richard Swift, Foxygen has the whole summer of love schtick down. With its cheering gals and chipper brass section, “In The Darkness” is an obvious homage to “Sgt. Pepper's.” “Shuggie” is a shout-out to Shuggie Otis, and “San Francisco” includes the zinger, “There's no need to be an asshole / You're not in Brooklyn anymore.” Cynics may (rightfully) grouse that these guys are record store junkies ripping off '60s and '70s vinyl and daring to call the results original. Feh. Just because a cynic might make a valid point doesn't mean it's worth believing. (M. Brianna Stallings)

There's a Wikipedia search category called “shoegazing musical groups.” Doesn't that sound like your grandmother? “Back in my day, the shoegazing musical groups ...” Now it's my turn to sound like an old fogey. I don't understand the compulsion to slap reverb on the vocals of any Hope Sandoval-esque singer who's vaguely aligned with shoegaze or dream pop. Case in point? Almanac, the latest from Brooklyn's Widowspeak. It's a joy: at once arid and autumnal, mischievous yet mournful. “Locusts” lilts and tingles. Psychedelica spikes “Devil Knows.” “Thick as Thieves” is a haunted, mesmerizing waltz, and “Ballad of the Golden Hour” has a galloping-through-the-desert-bareback-on-a-palomino sound. Still, Molly Hamilton's sweet, high vocals are awash in reverb, which the genre may dictate, but it's pervasive, which leads to samey-ness and that leads to disinterest. (M. Brianna Stallings)

This is prolific local band Gusher’s fifth dispatch in less than two years. It's slated for a vinyl release at some point by No Pride in Life Records, a heavy Norwegian label. At the moment, the only way to own these tracks is to have been at the release show in December, when the band gave them away for free. Gusher works in both late-’80s noise rock and early-’90s shoegaze genres with conviction. This isn’t as conflicted as you might think; after all, both styles are all about volume. Gusher has some impressive recording and mastering skills to match that volume, too. Everything they’ve released is as thick as a brick. (Derek Caterwaul)


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