Retribution Gospel Choir 

Retribution Gospel Choir

The debut disc by Retribution Gospel Choir, the side-project band of Low guitarist Alan Sparhawk, is dedicated to the proposition that the greatest band in the history of rock 'n' roll is Neil Young & Crazy Horse. Both bands share key aspects — crashing, thudding drums; slightly distorted, smoldering electric guitar leads; lurching tempos; angst-laden, virtually haunted vocals; and the general cathartic feeling that follows a song's end. In fact, Sparhawk sounds as if he's letting it all out here, every quavering lump of emotional distress he has swallowed or suppressed for years is coming to the surface in these songs. Bob Mould — whose singing Sparhawk's somewhat recalls — seems almost happy-go-lucky by comparison.

All ten songs are sharp and concise, with the kind of melodies 'n' riffs that urge the listener to replay the disc in its entirety after but one listen. On "Take Your Time," Sparhawk's guitar has a venomous bite like a coiled snake to complement his tortured yowl. Two tracks have great radio potential (in a better world, anyway) — "What She Turned Into," with its lamenting yet oddly celebratory chorus Then she turned into the rain, and terse, turbulent guitar/drum interplay, and the resigned, fatalism-with-a-killer-hook "Easy Prey." The only things amiss with the otherwise habit-forming RGC are its length (a mere thirty minutes) and lack of variety. Still, fans of Mould, Giant Sand, and the Young of Arc/Weld and Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere are gonna be real happy being so despondent. (Caldo Verde)

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