Agony Shorthand

Friday, February 17, 2006

I have to thank the new 200 LB. UNDERGROUND online hardcore 'zine for turning me onto this second album from Philadelphia's ESPERS, one of the few acts from the raging modern folk microscene who easily exceed the hype. One listen to a song as "pretty" as the kick-off "Rosemary Lane" and you too will be batting your eyes at the record & clutching it tight to your heaving bosom. The lead female vocalist has just a lovely whisp of a voice, one that can be utterly heartbreaking when paired with outstanding multi-layered, multi-instrument backing from this rather large band, as well as with the other fella who emotes quite strongly as well. The band, who cover NICO, DURUTTI COLUMN (!) and fuckin' BLUE OYSTER CULT on this one, are not afraid to crank it up and let the violin & guitar feedback and scream all of over the place as needed -- and on their makeover of the 'Cult's "Flaming Telepaths", it's pretty goddamn intense & scary for a few minutes there near the end of the 10-minute number. I know how bands work -- this has gotta be the one ESPERS save for the very end of the set, the one where the kids, lulled into a near rapturous & trance-like state by the preceeding folk melancholia, explode into a violent circle dance, trash the club & fight the cops. Awesome!! And excellent CD, too -- all yuks aside, there isn't a duff track on here & I expect to keep this in heavy, heavy rotation for the rest of the year at a minimum.