Talbot Tagora

Lessons in the Woods or a City

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The Pacific Northwest's understated legacy of spiky, clangorous post-punk -- sometimes too easily lost in the perceptions of garage rock beerfests and fuzz-and-flannel blowouts -- got a new boost in 2009 with Talbot Tagora's debut album, Lessons in the Woods or a City, with the trio's work feeling far more in the vein of Ein Heit and the A Frames than Soundgarden and the Young Fresh Fellows. With staccato bass and guitar notes leading the way on songs like "Mixed Signals Through Miles of Pilgrimage," "Hairspray," and "Black Ice," it can almost feel like a bit of no wave noise courtesy of the Glenn Branca wing of performers filtered through a chuggingly catchy songwriting knack. If a song like "Ichthus Hop" doesn't immediately seem like an earworm, the steady chant-singing of Chris Ando and especially Ani Ricci serves as the key throughout much of the album, sometimes buried in the murk but a keening anchor to hang onto while the band grinds and grooves. Strange moments of sudden, almost uplifting resonance, like the start of "Solar Puppets" and nearly everything about "Perception Stick," add to the enthralling energy. The intentionally hollow but not muffled sound that the band created on the songs further adds to the feeling of unsettled intensity throughout, with some of the meaner bass sounds in particular rivaling anything from sessions an engineer like Steve Albini has worked on over the years. There's restraint here and there -- "Hidden Note," for all its speed, feels almost like a power ballad in context thanks to its flowing instead of crushing bass -- but it is, again, in context of a surging whole.

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