Brightblack 

Ala.cali.tucky

What makes the mystical, pedal steel-soaked sound of Brightblack so much different than any other pack of jackasses wearing trucker caps? First off: This band doesn't wear trucker caps. It's your fault for thinking that, just because that pedal steel is wailing away all the time. Actually, it's not your fault -- it's Gram Parsons' fault. If that guy had been just ugly or at least funny-looking like Mike Nesmith, shameless trend-hoppers wouldn't be playing crappy country retreads -- just devout fans who actually liked this music, and who cares about them anyway? Brightblack's sound may immediately raise a few flags of familiarity, and the associations one attaches to such flags come quickly: "Hey, a pedal steel, a slow tempo ... I know this." But you don't. Not yet.

For all its laid-back double harmonies and soothing melodies, there's something dirty and shifty underneath Ali.cali.tucky, a revelation that comes slowly. It comes when you realize you haven't understood a word of the vocals for 25 minutes. It comes when you hear the hidden rasp of the singer's buried vocals. It comes when you realize that this slow, dislocated pace is not peaceful -- it's almost menacing. The harmonies glide, but they seem to be gliding backwards.

The chunky folk-blues pouring out of your speakers sounds like Royal Trux at its most spaced and lost. If you want to go back a step, another Brightblack forebear might have been Opal, the pre-Mazzy Star outfit for David Roback that investigated the same terrain. Throw in Jason Pierce's vocals on the first Spiritualized album and then recall the sad demise of the great band Acetone, and you should now know the sort of droning, repetitive-to-the-point-of-absolute-brilliance material this disc is liberally soaking in.

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