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Solaram

Love & the Sweet Divine

(Rainbow Quartz; US: 7 Sep 2010; UK: 20 Sep 2010)

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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DAVID MAINE is a novelist and essayist. His books include The Preservationist (2004), Fallen (2005), The Book of Samson (2006), Monster, 1959 (2008) and An Age of Madness (2012). He has contributed to The Washington Post, Publishers Weekly, Esquire.com and NPR.com, among other outlets. He is a lifelong music obsessive whose interests range from rock to folk to hip-hop to international to blues. He currently lives in western Massachusetts, where he works in human services. Catch up with his blog, The Party Never Stops, at davidmaine.blogspot.com, or become his buddy on Facebook (or Twitter or Google+ or whatever you prefer) to keep up with reviews and other developments.


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