The Sheila Divine

New Parade [US]

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Although it is singer Aaron Perrino's impressive pipes that have garnered the most attention for Boston's the Sheila Divine, New Parade, the group's debut album, shows itself to be the work of a finely functioning band that is decidedly more than the sum of its parts. Bassist Jim Gilbert and drummer Shawn Sears are an excellent rhythm section, supporting Perrino's strummy electric guitar parts and soaring vocals with only the occasional (and tasteful) push for the limelight. This interaction between all of the band members is demonstrated right off the bat. "Automatic Buffalo," New Parade's opener, starts gently, with beautifully layered guitars and a confident bass and drum groove. Then Perrino's vocals enter, doing his best Thom Yorke-meets-Bono-meets-Morrissey impression. When the distortion kicks in during the chorus, the song never ignites, but only smolders languidly. This is music for a rainy day, no doubt about it, and despite the relative lack of dynamic movement or rhythmic variation throughout the 12 tracks of New Parade, the mood is shockingly well maintained. Even such sing-along (or shout-along) moments as "Hum" are definitely of the locked-bedroom variety. There's plenty of angst and melancholy here that were supposed to have gone out of style after Soundgarden broke up, but the Sheila Divine make it work. Producers Brian Charles and Mike Denneen have done an excellent job at getting earthy guitar and drum sounds, but the vocals are slightly weak, not in virtue of Perrino's performance (when he sings "in my mouth is a hurricane," in "Hum," he's not kidding), but in virtue of how it is recorded. Even when the music tends towards unexciting competence (especially some of the verses), the quiet, directed intensity of all three members of the band is enough to draw in the listener. A fine first offering from a promising band.

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