Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Bipolar Bear/Talbot Tagora – Abstract Distractions [olFactory]

Hooray! A second 10” has entered my collection. This time it’s split between LA’s Bipolar Bear and local (Seattle) crew Talbot Tagora. Makes sense to put these two together; the bands are doppelgangers in a way, both are guitar/bass/drums trios and share a penchant for alliteration and straight up, no frills rock which I’m pretty much always in the mood for.
BB takes the first side, leading off with arpeggio driven “Cape Verde.” There’s a vaguely mathy quality to the guitar playing but it avoids the pitfalls of that particular style by being catchy, melodic and most importantly fun. I don’t even know if there’s a single chord in here yet it still manages to “rock” pretty hard. From what I gather listening to this record, the Bipolar Bear “sound” is the solid rhythm section keeping it pretty simple, while the guitarist/singer (billed here simply as Paul) goes wild, cramming in as many riffs as he can all while contributing distorted vocals as well. “Algiers” will instantly be your favorite from the side. Bipolar Bear rides a fantastically catchy chord progression, rearranging/reworking it a number of times before a pseudo-Indian-ish/mild mannered Dead Kennedys guitar lead starts in like a seizure. “Library” is more of the mathy style as “Cape Verde.” It isn’t successful to the degree that “Verde” was but it’s got a nice faux-Beach Boys chorus. “March of Mudmen” is fast paced with irreverent guitar lines flitting about until an unexpected, and frankly bizarre, breakdown and tempo shift. It has never not caught me off-guard which is respectable. And even though it’s literally dizzying, it has nice melodic touches as well. “Pixote” only lasts for about 80 seconds but it makes the most of its time. It runs through a number of different parts, always returning to the great central riff.
I was happy to see Talbot Tagora on this split cause I’ve never actually heard any of their recorded material (though I have seen a show at their house.) TT’s contrast to BB’s style is noticed instantaneously in “Internet Fixture.” There’s more strumminess present in Talbot Tagora’s music. Although, even as I’ve just written that; the second track is pretty much all riff driven. “We Live in sack” leads off with a great riff which moves into another great descending figure. The track has a nice easy going, head bobbing kinda vibe. Firmly rhythmic but not aggressively so. “Black Diamond” is lead by effected guitar slashing one chord over and over along with a nice vocal line. The repetitive strikes of that one chord manage to fill out the space which is really strange and cool and the melody is left solely on the vocalist’s shoulders. It sounds a bit iffy on paper but they pull it off and it totally works. “The Weather Man” is probably my favorite track of the record. There’s not too much to say about it another than it’s a great stripped down rock song. It’s catchy, upbeat and makes you want to listen to it over and over. Talbot Tagora mostly surf along on a great chord progression but they wrap up the track by laying into one chord over and over until the tape’s switched off. I should add that the Tagora side is really well sequenced cause each track one-ups the previous song.
Now that I’m thinking about it this is probably a good record for summer, something you can hangout and drink Ice Tea too. It’s upbeat but in a really relaxed way. Just a nice rock record to chill out with. If that sounds up your alley give this a look. Still available and comes with a digital download code.

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