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Pagoda
Pagoda
Ecstatic Peace/Universal Records
www.pagodaonline.com


Pagoda's self-titled debut album gives roots rock, indie-pop, and alternative folk a raw edge and unbridled rage akin to Nirvana, Soul Asylum, 12 Stones, and Everlast. The New York City based quartet, comprised of lead vocalist and guitarist Michael Pitt, drummer Reece Carr, bassist Will Paredes and celloist Chris Hoffman, takes rock music back to its alternative grunge seedlings of the early and mid '90s. The album, which was produced by Luca Amendolara and recorded in his studio in Milan, Italy, offers some exotic mid-eastern accents and raspy vocals that rail along the steady rolling blues rhythms and singular chord progressions which jangle morosely across the melodic spreads.

The opening track "Lesson Learned" is a folksy rhapsody with rock brewed undertones and a daze of vocal moans that segue into the raw ledges of "Amego" filled with a lot of "Blah, Blah, Blah" in the lyrics and instrument strides implementing sharp impulsive stakes through the aural grind. The rusty vocal textures cram and belt out instinctually cuffing the twists and contortions in the instrument designs. The indie-pop psychedelics in the quasi-ballad "Death To Birth" are reflective of Vive Voce and Mates Of State, shingling melancholic vocal moans which share the emotional plaintive of Sarah Assbring of El Perro Del Mar fame.

The calypso tinged beats in "Botus" are swathed in grunge-like distortions and raspy vocal registers, while the mid-eastern flavoring in the cello segments on "Sadartha" are meshed into the exotic beats supporting the cringing vocal drones. Cello spurts pierce the relaxing rhythm movements and intercept the droning guitar dirges. "Fear Cloud" is a short clip of Afro-Indian beats and vocal effects which move into the folksy, roots rock gauges of "I Do" with guitar distortions darkened by somber tones, howling echoes and vocal cackles in the background.

Pagoda's music is collected from the private thoughts of friends. It is a way for them to vent out emotions in an open space where pretensions and politeness are not needed, just a platform for pure, raw, raging feelings to be let loose. The music uses a street wise sense rather than fancy production tactics. Holding the melodies together are the steady rolling bluesy swag of the rhythm motions and the raspy bravado in the vocal gages. Pitt leads the band with a sage-like guidance and viable intentions to be honest, so each member's parts can be heard and no one is drowned out. It's music for friends made by friends.

-Susan Frances

Track listing:
1. Lesson Learned
2. Amego
3. Fetus
4. Voices
5. Death To Birth
6. Botus
7. Sadartha
8. Alone
9. Fear Cloud
10. I Do


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