The Rum Diary 

Poisons That Save Lives

Big-ass lumbering whales. This, first and foremost, is what I've retained from my inaugural Rum Diary experience at Albany's Ivy Room -- the Cotati quartet nestled into a corner, showering drunken revelers with moody space rock, augmented by a giant projection screen prominently featuring ... big-ass lumbering whales, lolling about in the ocean, graceful, content, majestic.

As the Greek philosopher Beavis once noted, "It packs an awesome buzz."

So here we encounter the latest Rum Diary studio experience, which will require an enormous set of headphones indeed to properly absorb. Self-indulgent? Oh, hell yes. These dudes play atmospheric rock with overzealous instrumentation -- two drum kits, two basses, and all manner of keyboards and makeshift percussion hoo-hahs -- coupled with long, languishing run times. Some tunes here are breathy, ethereal sound collages that barely qualify as songs at all; elsewhere, however, these gentlemen Bring the Fuckin' Rock, with catchy little melodies that dissolve into angry blasts of guitar distortion.

I've listened to Poisons at least ten times and have yet to notice, or care about, the lyrics. This does not disturb me, nor should it you. This here is a think piece, but though its deliberate pacing and moody airs might turn you off at first, you'll want to be around when the Diary sinks its teeth into a gorgeous pop hook and spins it outward into beautiful oblivion -- ignore the song title "Killed by the Cowboy President" and focus on that hallucinatory intertwining guitar/bass melody. The Rum Diary ensures that you won't just see the big-ass lumbering whale -- you'll become it.


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