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Abe Vigoda – Reviver EP

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Abe Vigoda – Reviver EP (Post-Present Medium Records; released February 17th, 2009)

Abe Vigoda is that band that came from out of nowhere and found my ears and demanded repeated listens- the first time I listened to last year’s Skeleton album, I thought, “Hmmmm. What exactly is this?” So I listened again. And again. And…

…it wound up my seventh favorite album of last year. Funny how that happens; I was on-the-fence-off-the-fence-back-on-the-fence and before I knew it; I couldn’t get Abe Vigoda out of my head. So to quote myself (which is so annoyingly self-indulgent but I try to keep track of the things I write because they’re bound to come back and haunt me) their churning and seamless anthems sound like a rollicking rock carnival with some of the finest drumming laid to 2-inch tape (or ProTools) of the whole year; explosive and expressive with a mild hint of sloppiness.”

So on 2009’s Reviver EP; Abe Vigoda gets a little more sloppy, slightly more experimental (there’s an almost two-minute noise excursion, a re-do of their own song Endless Sleeper; slowing it down by half and giving it a sonic re-interpretation, right in the middle of the mini-record) but for some reason it’s even more listenable- whetting my appetite for another full-length album from these guys.

On AV‘s second album*, Kid City; they were a frantic, dissonant and yelpy mix of energetic, jagged stop-start punk and drone-pop. Billing themselves as calypso punk, on Skeleton they kept maturing into a fully realized and tight band, powered by Reggie Guerrero‘s phenomenal drumming and lead singer Michael Vidal‘s muffled but attention-grabbing vocals. So this EP serves as a reliable indicator that this is indeed a band on the rise- trying out new styles (big plus) but losing the aforementioned Guerrero (chalk one up in the minus column; new drummer Dane Chadwick is more conservative but still excellent in his own right) this band is another shining example of what happens when things go horribly right.

The opener, Don’t Lie, shows off more of Vidal‘s vocals- he’s higher in the mix now, which is a really good thing (his voice is somewhere between Spencer Krug and Ian Curtis; that’s great company to be in) whereas he was much lower throughout Skeleton. House sounds like there’s three or four different rhythms going on at once- each musician playing their respective instrument to the beat of their own disparate heart, yet it works so well. It reminds me some of the densely layered rhythms on Bob Marley & The Wailers‘ later albums; try listening to Babylon System off of the Survival record- there’s like three distinct rhythms in there, all in opposition but just happening to be in the same key (and it works so ridiculously well).

Then there’s the Endless Sleeper re-dub, which shows the band getting freaky. But the main focal point of the album is their cover (and liberal re-explication) of Stevie NicksWild Heart– it’s a pretty good summation of Abe Vigoda‘s mission statement (if they were to have one), this band is like a “fever gone higher…” and the line “…running around like a spirit in flight” fit so well capturing the essence of AV. The droning bass line and the plucky guitar work in conjuction with Vidal’s emotive and yearning vocalization make this track one of the young year’s best- and the searing distortion sneaking into the song doesn’t hurt at all- it adds to the urgency.

The EP closes on The Reaper; which sounds like a leftover from Skeleton– the guitars shimmer on top of Vidal’s plaintive warble (if this is a left-over then is this Guerrero‘s drumming?). AV is hitting their stride- I’m really excited to see what else comes from their world in the next year.

Tracklisting:

1. Don’t Lie

2. House

3. Endless Sleeper

4. Wild Heart

5. The Reaper

Abe Vigoda

* – I can’t find their debut album (Sky Route/Star Roof) anywhere; it’s not on eMusic, Insound, iTunes, lala– anywhere. Apparently only 650 copies were pressed to vinyl; I can’t even find it on eBay. Help me out- if you can get this to me, I’ll write your band a good review…