Barnaby Monk 5 a.m., Dec. 7
By Mary Leary | Published Friday, April 16, 2010
What initially presents as a rather unremarkable collection of subdued sounds with thoughtful, poetic words rewards re-listens by gradually fanning out like a deck of lovingly drawn oracle cards.
Guitarist/singer Itai Faierman ("storyteller" seems as apt) has an unusually low voice for leads -- not Brad Roberts's (Crash Test Dummies) dead baritone, but an arresting mix of gravel with urgency. Other observers keep comparing Faierman and bassist/back-up vox Erica Putis with the Pixies. Even Sonic Youth comes up -- I want to know what these people have been smoking! I get more of an Innocence Mission or Broken Social Scene vibe -- not SOUND, exactly -- vibe. The trio's occasionally more dissonant moments re-create the innovative, contemplative mood of Fraser/Debolt (a progressive folk-sourced Canadian duo whose groundbreaking ’71 album was finally rereleased in ’09). Hell, the Mashtis would segue nicely with The Album Leaf.
Reference points to the wind, this stuff not only digs its heels in most agreeably but threatens to be a contender for top 2010 San Diego release status. It takes cajones to build songs around progressions of three stately chords, the case with the more vociferous standout, "Fold." Also beautifully simple are "Mistaken" and the rubber-ball bounce of "Better." Maybe the highest compliment I could pay forward: the whole thing glows with the emotive cohesion calling for a complete-album experience.
(1) Limbs and Treasure
(4) Last Sea
(6) Half Crooked
(7) Mount Eerie
(8) Harmony Circles
(10) Sympathetic Pearl