Last Days of May

Inner System Blues

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To many rock critics, commercialism is inherently evil -- they reason being is that if something is commercial, it must be devoid of substance and integrity. But truth be told, commercial rock can be either good or bad; it all depends on the artist. At the same time, there is something admirable about albums that are blatantly uncommercial -- not uncommercial in a smug, self-righteous, elitist, hipper-than-thou way, but uncommercial as in exercising your right to tell your story the way you see fit. And Inner System Blues (as opposed to "Inner City Blues," one of Marvin Gaye's big '70s hits) is uncommercial in a positive way. This instrumental psychedelic rock/progressive rock/acid rock effort isn't an exercise in pompous elitism, but it does reflect the uncompromising spirit of Last Days of May leader Karl Precoda. The traditional verse/chorus/verse/chorus format is avoided, and a love of improvisation prevails. Throughout the album, Precoda's band engages in trippy, bizarre, neo-psychedelic jamming that isn't the least bit radio-friendly. One can easily imagine a program director hearing Inner System Blues and saying, "I can't possibly play this album." But if Precoda is sacrificing radio airplay -- at least on commercial stations in the United States -- so be it. The former Dream Syndicate guitarist is providing music that he finds creatively fulfilling, and for those who are brave enough to go along for the ride, the rewards are considerable. Listeners may not be able to fully absorb Inner System Blues on the first listen, but the more times one listens to this album, the more he/she will realize how much meat Precoda's experimentation has on its bones. Fans of explorers like Acid Mother's Temple and High Rise are advised to give Inner System Blues a close listen.

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