15 February 2009

Album Review: Abe Vigoda - Reviver

Abe Vigoda is still alive, believe it or not. So is the veritable punk rock band of the same name. Or, perhaps not. Perhaps they are no longer alive as a punk band? Based on their EP Reviver, I think it might be safer to call Abe Vigoda an experimental post-punk outfit. I admit, I was caught completely off-guard the first time this punk-cum-shoegaze record.

If Reviver sounds inaccessible, it's because shoegaze is not often produced today, and not with the passion that Abe Vigoda throws in. Admitedly, some elements echo their 2008 LP Skeleton, particularly the band's penchant for walls of dissonance, but in a comparison Skeleton is gritty asphalt to the treble brightness of Reviver. "Don't Lie" sums up all the different elements of the CD within the first minute. Choral echoes fade in to the stroke of a buzzing guitar and idiosyncratic drum patterns with a sparse rhythm. Michael Vidal's quivering voice stalks through the forest of electric noise with the air ofMorrissey, punctuated with Juan Velazquez's harmonizing falsetto. Abe Vigoda straddles the line between opaque and accessible, with one foot in each camp. On the one hand, that 4/4 bass and whirling thunder are rarely exposed to radio, but then again the vocal harmonies are earnest and beautiful.

The rest of the EP continues in variations of aspects of the first song, "House" making do with syncopated rhythms and plucks razor sharp lead guitarzig-zagging across the soundscape . The harmonies here still resonate, but with a tone more baritone than the tenor of the first track. "Wild Heart" is an off-beat interpretation of StevieNicks's song of the same name, stripped down to the essentials: no percussion, Vidal's miserable drone, guitar pricks (and feedback), a pulsing bass keeping time, and a grating wall of sound that will pull at your heart with all the natural emotion of aXiu Xiu song; "The Reaper" finishes off the record with less variation than I would like (compared to the previous two songs), but it makes use of distinctly AbeVigoda sounds: vocals buried deep in noise. But Reaper sounds the most post-punk of the five-track EP. (Track 3, "Endless Sleeper," is more of an interlude than a serious song.) Between flashes of feedback, the guitars fret away in little snitches of melody that you must observe with care in order to catch.

Abe Vigoda brings their unique, almost asynchronous shoegaze post-punk to fruition, succeeding at drowning the sonic landscape the band caresses. If you lose focus, the album will become noise. But if you focus, you can make out sounds maddening, glamorous, and melancholy.

Abe Vigoda's Reviver will be released on February 17th by PPM.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Lovely review! Agree on all points.

"Don't Lie" started out as the immediate favorite, but it's currently "House."

Reviver reveals, builds upon Skeleton. This band is sensational.