Drop Nineteens

Delaware

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Acclaimed upon emergence as the American response to the U.K.'s shoegazing trend, the Drop Nineteens weren't totally following in that particular vein, though it was clear that they were the first of many American bands who had played Spacemen 3 and My Bloody Valentine releases to death. Combining that version of blissout with a dollop of late-'80s indie/college rock, the quintet on its first album created a sometimes excellent, sometimes generic effort of politely queasy guitar overdrive and gentle melancholia. Lead guitarists/vocalists Greg Ackell and Paula Kelley made for a good (if clearly Kevin Shields/Bilinda Butcher-inspired) front team, the latter's singing the more distinct but the former's generally more prominent, if flatter. The presence of third guitarist Motohiro Yasue promised more crunch and drive than was actually apparent, but there's no denying the general presence of agreeable fuzz, especially noticeable on Delaware's highlight, the lengthy, lovely roil and zone of "Kick the Tragedy." The rhythm section agreeably shuffles here and pounds there, leaving it to the fretbenders to fully dictate the pace and flow of the songs. "Winona," the album's lead single, was perhaps the first of countless indie/alternative songs and bands focused on Winona Ryder, the actress; the overall performance is one of the group's best, with more energy and hooks than elsewhere. A cover of Madonna's early hit single "Angel," an intriguing prospect, fails to fully deliver, vocals dulled and the performance slow and trudging. Co-producer Paul Degooyer, who worked with the band on the overall recording, gets some reasonable performances out of the band. Outside of the screaming psychosis of "Reberrymemberer," though, there's little of the chaotic rampage that makes My Bloody Valentine such a thrilling prospect, or even the epic flow of sound from the likes of Slowdive. Delaware is pleasant, just not completely special.

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