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Calla – Scavengers

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This would be the 2001 sophomore album/masterpiece by the NYC-based trio, though the band’s roots in Denton, TX might go further to explaining the sound of this thing. The best word I can think of for it is “hot,” but that requires some clarification. This is the soundtrack to a humid summer night, a record full of dark textures that lumber and creep forward, dripping with woozy sweat.

This tone is clear right from the beginning with “Fear of Fireflies.” A low bass anchors the track while acoustic and electric guitars, organs, subtle synths and various percussion snake around it, winding in with Aurelio Valle’s strained-yet-disaffected voice and slightly spooky lyrics (“A sea of fireflies hover at the dark, following tracers, scattering apart, following me”).

“Traffic Sound” is harsher, driven by a kick drum and hollow guitar tone that emphasizes the empty space in the song. “Slum Creeper” sounds like what a song with that title should sound like–it shakes forward in a sinister, dirty lurch. “Mayzelle” and “A Fondness for Crawling” are instrumental numbers that both slowly build tension while unleashing atonal, ghost-in-the-machine noises.

“Hover Over Nowhere” is the record at its “prettiest,” a hazy, lazy ballad that takes its time, unfolding slowly over seven and a half minutes. “Tijerina” follows a similar formula, but builds to a more fevered climax before coming back down. What’s really interesting is the final track, a cover of the relatively spare “Promenade” by U2 (from 1984’s The Unforgettable Fire, if you care), that doubles the original song’s length. Even if it is relatively up, compared to the prior 9 tracks, it comes off as a surprisingly perfect addition/end note.

If you’re half-awake, trying to fall asleep sans-AC on a warm night (as I was when I decided to write this), this would be a fitting soundtrack to that state. As illustration, an audio youtube of “Fear of Fireflies” for ya:

If you dig this, they also have 4 other pretty good albums: Calla (1999), Televise (2003), Collisions (2005) and Strength in Numbers (2007).

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Written by Sarah K

June 30, 2008 at 3:54 am

Posted in Plugs, Reviews

Tagged with , ,

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