Continental

Continental

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AllMusic Review by

It would be hasty to file Continental under the Tortoise category of post-whatever, although a lazy comparison could be made. But more than the jazzbo-instrumental Chicago school is evoked on Continental's self-titled debut. What's unmistakable is the affinity these multi-instrumentalist lads share with fellow Bay Area post-rockers: the electro-organic science of Brian and Chris, the summery Cali jazz-hop of Tommy Guerrero, and the shimmering shoegazing of the Rum Diary are all touchstones, yet this Oakland five-piece forges a unique identity from note one. The rolling bass and crystalline keyboards of "Rhinoceros" set the template which frames the band's sound but allows for many a variation on a theme; about halfway through the opening track a second drum kit brings the tempo to a full-on tumble down the hill with guitar feedback chasing behind until they hit the straightaway and charge ahead in full Motorik mode. "What Makes Montana" slithers around the corner with sultry sax, sparkling guitar and scratchy turntable creating the motif for a late-night romp through back alleys. "U-Dot" is an upbeat jazz-rocker with atonal guitar figures and warm Rhodes-esque keys. Then suddenly things take a turn for the pastoral with "Willow St., 1 A.M.," an acoustic shuffle accompanied by the chirping of frogs, which blends into the subtle pedal steel that lightens the smolder and scorch of "Oxbow." "Bocce Ball" and "Please Don't Climb on the Captain" show the band at their peak: the latter combining basslines from Guererro's Jet Black Crayon, guitar strums from the Sea and Cake, Sketches of Spain sax and epic free jazz drumming; the former channeling yet not imitating the rollicking vibes, guitar and bass workouts of, yes, Tortoise. And so the journey continues through ten tracks of stunning invention and refreshing diversity -- an impressive debut that shows unlimited potential.

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