The Heavils

Heavilution

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The second album by the Heavils tones down the more overtly comic moments of their self-titled debut (despite the assumedly deliberate dorkiness of the album title), but sticks with its overall sense of lighthearted frivolity. The closest comparison is how late-'70s Cheap Trick simultaneously used and mocked the conventions of arena rock, and that comparison would stand up even if this album didn't include a scorching cover of Trick's "Just Got Back" with help from Rick Nielsen on guitar and son Miles Nielsen on vocals. (The Heavils, like Cheap Trick, are from Rockford, IL.) The silly wah-wah effects on the title track and the hilarious conceit of "Laundry Day" -- singer Brian Carter sings about stubborn spots and ring around the collar in the histrionic death-growl of more "serious" black metal bands, neatly pointing out just how goofy that vocal style always sounds -- are particular standouts. The one flaw is that Devin Townsend's strident production obscures the Heavils' primary musical focus, the bizarre homemade five-string instruments called Meanies that Carter and Mossy Vaughn play. The heavier overall sound flattens the odd harmonics and unconventional tunings of these instruments and makes the Heavils sound more "normal" than they really are. It's not until the extended instrumental "Kadigimonk" -- with no rhythm section -- closes the album that the Heavils' true avant-garde weirdness comes to the fore.

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