Retro-fuzz gets heavy
Solaram is a little slow getting started. The new project from Joe Tagg, formerly of the Three 4 Tens, stumbles out of the gate with two songs that are forgettably Byrds-esque, all jangly guitars and layered vocals, but, starting with “My Back Life”, the record taps a darker, moodier vein. The retro ‘60s hippie vibe is still there, but the guitars are more insistent, the distortion heavier, the vocals delivered with more urgency, and the organ and lead breaks forming a thick muddy puddle threatening to drown the listener. Feedback and harmonica are always welcome, too. “Divided Lines” follows this up nicely, and if the pendulum swings back to sunnier fare in “Dead Pool”, the grittier edge remains in such muscular workouts as “Loves” and “All I Want”, with its scratchy, twangy guitars. The tension between poppy and shadowy-dark is perhaps best captured in “Dancing”, a sweet, gentle tune that melts down in its final minute and a half. There’s just enough of a dichotomy to keep the record edgy throughout. Nice job, guys.
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