Bars of Gold


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You just can't beat a band with a good lunatic in front of the vocal mike, and Bars of Gold have a great one in Marc Paffi, who used to front Bear vs. Shark and on a good day sounds like the grand, unholy spawn of Jon Spencer, David Yow, and Eric Burdon. Paffi's inspired stream-of-consciousness bellowing on Wheels, the second full-length album from Bars of Gold, is so impressive that it takes an extra spin or two to soak in just how great the rest of the band is, but the results more than reward the effort. The guitar work from Ben Audette and Scotty Iulianelli leaps back and forth from deft prog-influenced picking to full-on post-punk crunch and hits its mark every time, while bassist Nick Jones (who, like Audette and Iulianelli, was a member of Wildcatting) and drummer Brandon Moss (like Paffi, a veteran of Bear vs. Shark) lay out some muscular grooves that push the songs forward and punctuate the fury of the music with a precision that's bracing and plenty fun. There's a lot going on in these songs, with anything from soul-gal backing vocals to tinkling keyboards lurking in the background while the band lunges into attack formation, but when the gears all mesh and this music hits fifth gear, Bars of Gold sound like a crazy, unstoppable force with the might of a freight train, and the best songs (like "Coffee with Pele" and "Tree Fort") are mighty slabs of dangerous joy. Recorded with admirable clarity and impact by Chris Koltey, Wheels is a stone blast in every sense of the word, and one of the smartest, wildest slabs of rock action in recent memory.

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