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Red State (Cardboard)

Wednesday, Apr 25 2007
Berkeley trio Gowns has estimable avant-indie cred. The collective rock resume of members Ezra Buchla, Erika Anderson, and Cory Fogel includes stints in Amps for Christ, Mae Shi, and Curtains, and electronics maestro Buchla is the son of synth groundbreaker Don Buchla.

The group's debut CD delivers on that intriguing pedigree. Red State's darkly beautiful vignettes reference the suffocation and quiet desperation of American hinterland existence. Images of suburban ennui haunt the lyrics, beginning with "Fargo," which features a litany of recreational boredom-relievers recited over shimmering keyboards. Epic droner "White Like Heaven" offers Velvet Underground-ish psychedelia while Anderson sings about such mundane moments as "a man outside walking his dog, mowing his lawn." On "Fake July," Buchla mutters that "you can smell desperation like a huge sick bird/ promise of salvation/ hovering overhead." Sonically, the compositions are unsettlingly intimate and blissfully melodic. With elements of freak folk, glitchy noise, chamber strings, and more, Red State is a powerfully ominous yet lovely place worthy of return visits. — Mike Rowell

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Mike Rowell


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