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With very little fanfare, Alabama-bred Remy Zero have done the near impossible—they’ve squeezed some originality and drop-dead beauty out of the standard guitar band format. Of course, Radiohead excels at precisely the same thing, so it’s no wonder they are big fans of Remy Zero themselves. But Remy Zero are no mere Radiohead copyists. Villa Elaine their second release is both strikingly original and thoroughly compelling in vision—an album in the old sense of the word, not merely a collection of songs.


“Hollow” combines pure Queen pomp with shades of end of the millennium anxiety. “Life in the Rain” is the most subtle and affecting rock song I’ve heard this year—mixing complex dynamics and layering ala OK Computer with an impassioned vulnerability. The music is carefully composed, stunning artrock that ranks alongside Radiohead and The Verve in its quality and Cinjun Tate’s strong emotive voice is rather akin to Thom Yorke crossed with Freddie Mercury—both outstanding singers in a genre that doesn’t boast many great singers. It’s a shame that Villa Elaine has been so roundly ignored because Remy Zero have proven here that they most assuredly belong in the big leagues.

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Sarah Zupko founded PopMatters, one of the largest independent cultural criticism magazines on the web, back in the Internet's early days of 1999. Zupko is a former Executive Producer for Tribune Media Services, the media syndication arm of the Tribune Company, and a 10-year veteran of Tribune. Her other pursuits involve writing historical fiction and research in the fields of Slavic and German history, as well as general European cultural and intellectual history. Zupko studied musicology, film, and drama at the University of Chicago and media theory at the University of Texas, where she received her M.A.


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