(Artwork care of Karen Ramsay (www.karenramsay.com), profile photo care of brianlackeyphotography.com)

Monday, December 7, 2009

CD review - Drug Rug, Paint the Fence Invisible (2009)

Sarah Cronin and Tommy Allen come together to form the idiosyncratic duo, Drug Rug, along with a little help from some friends. Paint the Fence Invisible, their sophomore effort, is the sort of album that requires real effort from the listener. The melodies and harmonies are off kilter and the songs don't follow a simple format. This is music that seems rooted in a dimension where Roky Erickson (13th Floor Elevators) is worshiped, a place where the Sugar Cubes are considered bland.

Vocal harmony is the key component of their sound. Sometimes they evoke a bit of a Fleetwood Mac or Mamas and Papas feel, mostly because of the male/female pairing and the way they've mixed the two vocal parts at about the same volume. So, neither voice is background, exactly. Another constant across these songs is strong retro aesthetic, based on a live room sound with plenty of reverb. The story is that the album was recorded in a haunted house; certainly, there's a sense of something to be exorcised.

Blue Moon starts with a simple guitar, then adds a spidery organ part that sounds like it belongs in 96 Tears. This one, along with Noah Rules, are what brought Roky Erickson to mind. It's the mix of keys, odd but simplistic guitar, and offbeat lyrics. Noah Rules takes it a step farther by filling the background with chaotic noise, flailing over the groove.

Shifting gears a bit, Hannah Please pulls out an Electric Light Orchestra riff with a hint of B-52's in the vocals. Normally, I'd compare this song with X, and it does have some of that raw emotion, but Cronin's voice is higher and wilder than Exene Cervenka's.

Throughout the album, Drug Rug has created layers of vocals and instrumental music that call for a most interesting pairing. Maybe a taste of absinthe is in order...

Further listening:
Roky Erickson:
You're Gonna Miss Me Baby (13th Floor Elevators)
Night of the Vampire

? and the Mysterians
96 Tears

Your Phone's Off the Hook

No comments:

Post a Comment