Sonic Reducer: Shelter, Doom And Emotion / Tread Light

August March
3 min read
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Derivative strokes for different folks: The brief keyboard riff that begins the first track of this album, on a song called “All This Time,” has a treacly but not twee vibration to it, as if someone is pouring honey all over a Rhodes electric piano’s upper range while invoking Kid A or the ghost of Elliott Smith as channeled through Earlimart. The consequent vocalizations are all Jack Johnson though, filled with the nuance of unbounded introspection. The second track, “Shelter,” has searching vocals while track three works on minor/major key resolutions as a tremulous voice tells a “Morning” tale. The last tune on tape is the best. “Start A Fire” sounds like something Billy Joel might have written after he penned “Captain Jack.” You get the idea. Great for listening to while crying, relaxing or trying to figure out exactly what happened between 1979 and 2004.

Katarak Attack Doom (Self-released)

This is, practically speaking, a single with two A-sides, to use the ancient terminology that I learned from my Aunt Joanne when she used to drop the needle on any number of Beatles’ 45s. But enough with the comparisons—even if the crunchy as funk opening riffs on “Doom” remind me of the also ancient rock form known as “groove metal,” a sound most exemplified by White Zombie on 1992’s La Sexorcisto. Ahem. I really rocked out to this song, even if I don’t like the drum mix, rim shots and all. It’s sly and cunning with insouciant vocals and a driving rhythm section, bruh. “Running Red Into the Water” is a deep acoustic track that swims like it’s drowning, full of fatigue and foreboding but with droning peace just seconds away. It’s all languid and, here, the percussion choices—cymbals and rumbling toms—provide excellent accompaniment.

John King Cave Emotion / Tread Light (Self-released)

Warning: This slowburning country-rock EP will cause you to take a deeper look at why life on this Earth is so dang complicated. With lush production, including properly mixed background vocals; real attention to instrumental levels and things like how reverb affects the mood of a song and guitar licks that are plangent and pure like something straight outta Muscle Shoals, here’s your best chance to get right with Bob during the long winter. The lyrics on the second track, “Tread Light,” are worth the price of admission alone, but what surrounds them instrumentally, melodically and harmonically, are all glimmering and shimmering too. The closing track is a classic of the genre, I think. Turn up the Eagles, the neighbors are listening!

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