My Second Surprise

Avoidance as a Way of Life

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The singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist mainstay of My Second Surprise, Ayal Nistor, covers a lot of ground on this debut release. While impressive, the music's hard to get a handle on, such is the variety of approaches. Generally, like many Israeli artists of the early 21st century, he takes a lot of inspiration from rock of the late '60s and early '70s, particularly of the British psychedelic and acid folk variety. There are dark, bittersweet folky tunes with eerie effects, such as "The Moon & the Soil," that will no doubt remind many knowledgeable listeners of Syd Barrett and early Pink Floyd. The bouncy, catchy wit of the Kinks also gets recalled at times. Yet there are also tracks that go fairly far afield from that style, such as the twangy spy movie-like exotica of "Meeting's Over"; the playfully grim cabaret rock of "Dance Around"; or the afterhours art-lounge music of "This Ain't Love," which has a tinge of Lou Reed's Berlin. Making this yet harder to pigeonhole, there's the combination of country guitar and melodica in the instrumental "I.M.F. Orchestra," and the reggae beat of "Different Juries." As melancholy whimsy goes, the album's is pretty likable, though Nistor has a ways to go before his singing and lyrics catch up with the quality of his melodies and arrangements. There's a very 1966-1967 Kinks-like untitled, unlisted bonus track at the end, by the way, that's one of the best things on the record.

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