Taking a listen

by Ryan Snyder

Citified Absence

The follow-up EP to last year’s full-length The Meeting After The Meeting finds Citified ( citified) riding the crest of the invigorated shoegaze genre that has experienced a resurgence over the past two years. Their latest EP Absence finds them in the midst of further exploration into the Phil Spector “Wall of Sound” production standard and the result is a surrealistic take on classic pop and indie rock of the late ’80s. Constructed over the course of five tracks, Absence displays the full lyrical and instrumental capabilities of a band that still discovering its own abilities. Singer and guitarist Chris Jackson’s voice blends seamlessly into layer upon layer of overlapping melodies on album opener “Founded,” a haunting composition by lead guitarist Diego Diaz and the first of any Citified track not to be penned by Jackson himself. Possibly the album’s strongest track, “Pencil Me In” is a moody, complex piece drenched in reverb, though devised so that the densely packed elements are each uniquely coherent. If there’s a knock against it, the band doesn’t do much experimentation with tempo until the album’s final track “My Family Cup” and even then, it’s slowed down a half-step and remains consistent throughout. That dynamic, however, serves to establish this as a more unified work. In addition, Jerry Kee’s production efforts cut a swath through the murkiness that typically characterizes shoegaze and molds the album into a driven, ethereal, even if abbreviated work that highlights the best of what the band can offer.


Patrick Rock When All Else Fails…

After years heading up the Patrick Rock Band, the first solo effort from Greensboro songwriter Patrick Rock ( patrickrockmusic) arrives with a few provisions. For the first time in his career, he’s relinquished total creative control for When All Else Fails… in favor of outsider input with highly questionable results. You shouldn’t draw any conclusions from the album’s opening track “The World Around the Corner,” a train wreck of pointless sound effect oddities over a programmed drum beat. Despite the initial dabbling in experimentalism, the true nature of the album is really nothing of the sort. Rather, it’s just straight-forward pop-rock with little lyrical imagination and hooks analogous to what is found all over adult contemporary and Top 40 radio. The rapid-fire guitar overlay during the chorus of “Muse” seems to borrow heavily from predominant pop influences like Coldplay, and as such, makes the track staler than yesterday’s Krispy Kremes. Just about everything from the themes behind the songs themselves to the production gimmicks are tired, tread-upon and cliché-ridden to the point that you start to wonder if it’s not an album of obscure pop covers. Possibly the low point of the album is “California,” a derisive look into the Sunshine State’s vacuous and superficial state of being. Allegedly, at least, because Rock admits he’s never actually been to California and bases it all on hearsay and anecdotal evidence. The album is not totally bereft of merit, however, as Rock is a dynamic guitar player when he doesn’t choose to limit himself. “Monster” briefly shows a glimpse of his harder edge and technical skill, however briefly. When All Else Fails… will certainly find some degree of mainstream success, but the irony lies in that the same shallow types for which he expressed so much disdain will be the same who eat it up.


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