When a band lists its influences as Gypsy field recordings, Greek rembetika, Russian folk songs, the Faces, and Black Sabbath, you know you're not in for your usual Top 40 fare. Welcome to the world of Picastro, where stark arrangements, strings, and hard-to-decipher vocals are all key ingredients. Early on in their career, Picastro focused solely on acoustic guitar and cello, but by the time their sophomore full-length, Metal Cares, dropped in 2005, Picastro's instrumentation had expanded, as electric guitars, piano, and violin were all added. The quartet (which is led by Liz Hysen) called on a lengthy list of musician friends to lend a hand on Metal Cares, including Tigerbeat6 artist Dwayne Sodahberk; Jim McIntyre of Sea Snakes; Evan Clarke of Blake and Rockets Red Glare; Zak Hanna of Bush League and Pecola; and Owen Pallett, who has recorded with the Arcade Fire, Jim Guthrie, and Hidden Cameras, plus his own projects Final Fantasy and Les Mouches. Although you can say Picastro sometimes resemble a more "out there" PJ Harvey ("Dramaman") and Tori Amos ("Common Cold"), all their influences add up to create a style that is hard to pin down. It may be mellow, but it sure ain't mainstream.
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AllMusic Review by Greg Prato