I, Sharko

I, Sharko

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Right from the opening bassline and the initial guitar twang, it's clear that this quartet likes their drone; happily, they like their rock as well. Indeed, perhaps the most enjoyable thing about I, Sharko's full-length debut is its balance of impulses. Derek Cullimore's vocals are echoed but not always epic, the general feel of the album warm and winning rather than freaked-out and gibbering, rave-ups as important as just plain raving. Those who want to live only on the psychic edge of collapse may sneer, but they're doing themselves a severe disservice, as songs like "Sun Comes Early" and "Fallen Hope" make plain. Keeping central folk-rock melodies at the heart of the songs serves the band very well, especially with the arrangements providing more bite around the edges than if everything was unplugged. When it comes to beautiful blissed-out head-nodding vibes, meanwhile, I, Sharko find themselves right where a young band should be -- still derivative, perhaps, but clearly talented enough to build on clearly present strengths. There are nods to everyone from the original late-'60s pioneers to later avatars like Spacemen 3, and on the gorgeous "For Anybody," the softer electric flow of early-'90s Telescopes or the Boo Radleys in their quieter moments. Cullimore's guitar playing trips out and doesn't stop, proving once again the salient point that solos need not be excuses for extreme wankishness (the mind-melting stuff toward the end of "Eyes" is especially inspired). All members but bassist Paul Grafton are credited with keyboards, and the addition of psych-inspired organ flow adds to the wonderful feeling throughout. Check out the extreme-and-then-some flanging that makes the quieter parts of "Water" still somehow seem just on the verge of floating away into the atmosphere.

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