Monday, July 13, 2009

The Essex Green - The Long Goodbye - 2003


The Essex Green's second album continued in the Elephant 6 spirit of their debut: music highly reminiscent of pop-psychedelia of the last half of the 1960s, though not slavishly revivalist. It's the vibe of those times (and much more the pop than the psych) that informs the record, rather than the aping of specific formulas. At the same time, comparisons to those vintage days are going to be inevitable, and there's a little bit of a pastiche feel to the result, though it's brought off with upbeat wit. Certainly the arcing pop/rock harmonics of Badfinger and the Beach Boys are echoed in one of the better cuts, the opening "By the Sea." A Moe Tucker-type drum pattern helps make "The Late Great Cassiopia" sound a little like the Velvet Underground gone power pop, "Lazy May" has a little bit of Lee Hazlewood's oddball cowboy pop/rock, "Old Dominion" fuses late-'60s country-rock Byrds with the cheesy exotica of early-'60s Joe Meek productions, and "Berlin" sounds like it might have been cut after some intense listening to psych-folk-rockers Kaleidoscope's "Please." Indeed, there's a great deal of variety to the record, something that sets them apart from the vast majority of the bands that pay homage to the '60s, but also something that keeps them from developing a distinct identity. One way to do that might have been to give more emphasis to the lead vocals of Sasha Bell, whose confidently cheery style makes her by far the best singer in the group.-AMG



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