Half String

Eclipse Oval Hue

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The collection of the band's first three EPs onto CD made for a good introduction to Half String's abilities around dreamy shoegazer psych, one of the seemingly endless array of such bands to emerge out of Arizona. Compared to, say, Lovesliescrushing's complete tape abuse, Half String steers a more conventional course with the full-band lineup, though in the mixing and overall delivery the quartet presses down on their effects pedals and groove. Guitarist/singer Brandon's vocals fit the expected slow, wistful, and sighing approach, while he and Matt chime, phase, and flange with the best of them. The rhythm section provides a little more surprise, Kimber's drumming often the loudest instrument in the mix and providing a rough but rolling contrast to the beautiful shimmers on display. Opening number "Hue" is easily the best of the bunch -- by the time of their third EP, the members had clearly found a way to connect all the dots just right -- but the whole collection turns up a variety of winners. "Sun Less Sea" lives up to the oh-so-gloomy implication of the title, all reverbed chimes and sorrow building up to a more active second section. "Slow Engine Kill Over" may be an unwieldy title, but the semi-tribal drums and almost And Also the Trees-like guitar make for magic, while "Maps for Sleep" incorporates everything from calm wistfulness to near rampages, Kimber again leading the way there. Unsurprisingly for a young band, there's nothing here to surprise any devotee of the form, but the combination is still a joy to behold -- what fans of the melancholic beauty of the Cure, Blind Mr. Jones, or Slowdive would easily kill for in a world that seems content to ignore such approaches.

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