Transmissionary Six

Get Down

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The Transmissionary Six's third album starts out with the quiet acoustic guitar-led "Black Tin Rocket," with Terri Moeller's vocals sounding like a regret-laden ghost visiting a past sorrow. It may seem strange to think of that being uplifting, but the beauty of the band lies in how it uses a seemingly conventional approach to cut right to the heart -- whether it's in how the chorus shifts to a subtly urgent command to "fire it off!" or how Paul Austin's keyboards provide a gentle bridge, there's a sense of drama here comparable to Lee Hazlewood or Nick Cave at his moodiest. With that as the compelling start, Get Down finds the band moving beyond the Walkabouts associations that understandably saddle Transmissionary Six. Moeller's no clone of Carla Torgerson even while being just as entrancing a singer, and though there are certainly many similar influences, hearing such moments as the calm breakdown into a reversed guitar solo on "Flake" shows how the band has its own take. As the album finds its generally easy pace, what's most impressive is how without actually being a concept album it has the feeling of a piece -- subtle movements between songs, Moeller almost as storyteller as much as singer on songs like "Down for the Count" and "Packakools," a sometimes striking grasp of Biblical and supernatural imagery. When the group ups the volume level the results are thrilling -- Moeller's brawling drumming and the combination of R&B moves and lounge vibes on the instrumental "Johnny & Waldo" feels like a spike of adrenaline. On the opposite tip, "Novanna" might be the secret heart of the album, a gently pretty acoustic guitar part forming the bedrock of a passionate Moeller performance, portraying emotional depths among the workers and attendees of a carnival even as the arrangements turn the song into a subtle, powerful anthem.

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