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taking a listen

by Ryan Snyder

reviews of local & state music CDs >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

GHOST TO FALCO Exotic Believers

There’s only one way to classify the sophomore effort of Chapel Hill refugee Eric Crespo’s project Ghost to Falco and that would be as “indescribable,” though maybe “breathtaking” would suffice as well. As the follow-up to 2007’s Like This Forever, Exotic Believers furthers Crespo’s exploration into the impossible and makes countless side trips along the way. Even with a cast of more than 30 Portland musicians in the fold, Exotic Believers sounds surprisingly cohesive in an unpredictable sort of way. The only constant is the slightly cold and dirty feeling with which the listener is left after each of the album’s nine tracks. From the noise-laden opener “Black Holes” and it’s mournful successor “Risen” to the subterranean low-end growl of the epic “Comfort Series #2,” there’s an unsettling feeling to be gathered from both the wild artistic ambitions and the abstruse anti-war message hidden within Crespo’s unconventional meter. Of course, there’s a it of context missing on the album, as Ghost to Falco is a multimedia project as well. Live shows complete the picture with disquieting imagery to perfectly parallel the incongruence of the record. It’s always a risky proposition to conjoin the words “art” and “rock,” but Exotic Believers does so to stirring effect.

Ghost to Falco will perform at the Maya Art Gallery this Friday at 9 p.m.

73/100

HAMMER NO MORE THE FINGERS Looking For Bruce

Somewhere between the syrupy gloss of Aaron Johnson and the grooveheavy eclecticism of Brian DeGraw, Baltimore indie-rock producer J. Robbins swims in the confluence of both pools. His influence on the first full-length LP of Durham’s Hammer No More the Fingers is at times so understated that it almost seems trifling, but the huge sound that he drew forth from this trio completely belies their fundamental pop sensibilities. The result is Looking For Bruce; an album that appeals to groovehounds, hysterical teeny-boppers and the lyrically-minded alike without leaning too heavily in any one direction. There’s a heavy boogie influence on opener “Automobiles,” as the contrast between Duncan Webster’s polished vocals and his grungy establishes the record’s overall symmetry. The focus on the band’s vocals harmonies becomes more pertinent than that of their debut EP, particularly on the album’s first single, “Shutterbug,” a song about Webster’s breakup with co-writer Jesse Smith. They’re never overdone, however, and at their strongest when used as build-up on songs like “Radiation.” One of the album’s strongest tracks, “Nobody Knows,” begins with an opening lick reminiscent of the Beatles’ “In My Life” and relies once again on the strength of the band’s harmonies to create one of the best hooks in the chorus. One shouldn’t expect a world of difference in the material on Looking For Bruce, but rather expect it to be leaner, funkier and more consistent overall.

Hammer No More the Fingers will perform at the Green Bean this Saturday.

77/100

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