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taking a listen

by Ryan Snyder

reviews of local & state music CDs

PACIFICO — Thin Skin and an Open Heart It’s amazing exactly how Matthew Schwartz’s Pacifico (www.myspace.com/ pacifico) project continues to fly so far under the pop radar, but with the strong effort in the form of his eighth studio release, the dearth of attention may just be rectified. Going into Thin Skin and an Open Heart without a regular backing band, Schwartz recruited a dynamite group of musicians to accompany him in this collection of mostly well-crafted, rocking pop tunes that includes Robert McDowell and Jeremiah Edmon of Manchester Ochestra, regular collaborator Jason Martin of Starflyer 59, Steven Dial from Project 86 and Gasoline Heart’s Jason Mask. Maybe it’s the Winston-Salem effect, but the album opens with a barrage of considerable post-jangle with “Back Track Back to Me” and “Caroline, Oh,” while “Elliot” tones down the starry-eyed sentimentality considerably. Things get really interesting with “Friends & Lovers,” a faintly countryfolk-inflected track driven by Schwartz’s longing falsetto that stands out as one of the strongest songs on the album and the shadowy contrast found there is carried forward by the hard bass walk of “Annie Oakley.” The momentum subsides on the latter half of the album with the ostentatious and somewhat emo “We Are the Easily Forgotten” and “Something’s Going Wrong Again,” but Thin Skin and an Open Heart as a whole is a strong effort from a hard-working and deserving artist.

74/100

POLVO — In Prism Even more trendy than the music coming out of nauseatingly-modish Triangle scene these days seems to be the resurrection of the ’80s and ’90s Chapel Hill music powerhouses that put the tiny town on the map all those years ago. Now that waves of indie-freak-folk-whatever flavor-of-themonthers are enjoying the precipice of fame thanks to the work of bands like Archers of Loaf and Superchunk while providing fodder for every blogger fanboy that calls Upstate New York home, the originators are saying, “Why not us?” Enter abstract rockers Polvo (www.myspace.com/polvotheband), a band so arty as to never make it off of college radio, despite several great albums. They’ve (mostly) reunited for their first album in 12 years, In Prism, and it’s a lot more than an attempt to return to glory; it’s a pretty darn good album. The band’s lyrical aesthetic has remained unbothered after all these years, but their intentionally cryptic allusions are somewhat lost in an even more obscuring vocal mix. It’s on the instrumental side, however, where Polvo elicit the same bristling effect they did a dozen years ago. As the only replacement member, drummer Brian Quast is positively Bonzonian atop the quartet’s Zepplin-esque eruptions. They utilizing contrasting volumes to great effect, whether successively or on top of each other, on songs like “Beggar’s Bowl” and “Lucia” and Quast is always in the right place. They occasionally find themselves leaning upon wafts of wobbly guitar and Ash Bowie’s narcoleptic voice, but In Prism in quintessential Polvo.

79/100

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