Friday, June 25, 2010

Mass Shivers

Contoured Heat
It is true when I was in seventh grade I liked Yes. My brother mercilessly made fun of me so much that I denounced progressive rock for good, or so I thought. Prog has been a dirty word around these parts for so long thatI am a little shocked that I find this disc so appealing. Normally,I have a no wank policy when it comes to guitar solos, but Mass Shivers seem to pull it off with aplomb. To pigeon hole them as a prog-rock band does not really capture the scope of this band. While their sound definitely resides in the 1970s, it seems to cover the total evolution music made in that decade, from hippie Grateful Dead-ish jams, full on funk, even a little punk, stoner jazz, classic rock, and yes a whole bunch of prog.

More Bumper than a Body Shop,” the lead off track, does indeed have a vast quantity of bumper beats. This band is tight, which I normally find distracting, but the tightness is in service of the rock and the tune is over before it becomes overly indulgent. “I got the Power” has a feel of a reved up Yes track. Complex knots of notes fly off the fret board. The rhythm section is precise and on point. This allows for the guitar to go out there,but it never ventures into free rock territory. “Outsider Erotica” is a hilarious title. The music itself seems rather jocular. The bass drums and guitar lock into a tightly controlled orchestrated dance. These guys obviously have chops, but the guitar wank-ery never become gluttonous.

Bilateral Dysfunction” is a nice spacey number. The instrumental number is a nice change of pace. This track is not as frenetic as the first couple of songs. The music floats away in purplish hazy fog. “Languid Liquid” is a beguiling elixir. The vocalist on this track sits in the back ground until the metal riffage comes in. Despite the slightly annoying nonsense chorus, the other parts of the song achieve a good balance between guitar heroics and vocals. The D&D dorkiness of the title “Odin V. Oden,” thankfully is not too much in the music. Actually it is a pretty great rocking number with out the blatant reference points. “Dusk” is an epic song that feels like a Grateful Dead-ish or Jackie-o Motherfucker spacey jam. The final track “Beneath the Sand” is the strongest of the disc. It feels the most emotional and spacious. It is the least musically self-aware. It is very clear that Mass Shivers are very talented musicians, if I do have a complaint, it would be a small one. I wish that they would occasionally ease up on the fancy guitar work and let the music itself shine through.(Drag City)(Dan Cohoon)