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Nethers

In Fields We Will Lie

(Box Theory Records; US: 20 Jun 2006; UK: Available as import)

Pastoral folk with shoe-gazing textures

Delicate, dreamy folk pop emerges from an unexpected source, as ex-members of DC’s Carlsonics regroup in a more rural guise.  Sharing a hazy serenity with bands like Feathers, yet decidedly earthier and less unhinged than most of the free folk contingent, Nethers slips shoegaze-y guitar textures and outré lyrical references into its pastoral mix.  Nikki West, singer and bass player, has a lovely, centered voice, sounding a bit like Belly-era Tanya Donnelly in the porch-picking “O the Deed”, and nearly as disembodied as Feathers’ Meara O’Reilly later in “Do Re Mi”.  Dual guitars—that’s Aaron Carlson and John Passmore—twine and strive against one another in interesting, not-very-freak-folk ways here.  “It’s an Island”‘s psyche trance-y opening could be Yume Bitsu, while “Hung Herself in a Birdcage”, with its strident two-note riff and pounding drums, sounds more like early 1990s Lush than anyone in Devendra’s camp.  The sentiment, though, has the velvety uneasiness of classic freak folk. “Dark is coming just around the corner”, croons West against a sheen of picked and sustained guitar tones, and suddenly it does feel very chilly and ominous indeed.

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The album moves seamlessly between lush pop songs and brooding ballads, showing the band's infectious combination of pure-pop fun and soulful emotion.
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