White Out

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Verbow is quite a find. In this world of derivative pop, the songs and performance of Jason Narducy have a personal stamp that begs repeated listenings, and an edge to move this music beyond the ordinary drone. "Dying Sun" is a neat sci-fi blitz with odd guitars, kind of like U2 submerged in water. The lyrics suggest Brian Wilson overdosing on Bob Dylan's "New Morning" rather than -- as legend has it -- "Be My Baby" on his tape loop. Alison Chesley's cellos give Verbow a distinct flavor -- something pioneer John Cale has infused into his live shows: the string quartet. There's an element of Cale-meets-Tracy Bonham: not power pop, but powerful pop. Bam. Just when "Dying Sun" has you lulled into one mood, "New History" continues the sentiment, upping the ante with more subdued energy and lyrics that are beyond Patti Smith -- maybe more like a psychedelic Janis Ian. Couple those lyrics with a wall of sound and really charged production by producer/engineer Brad Wood, and you have a cosmic pop disc that deserves attention. "I'll Never Live By My Father's Dreams" is woven into this fabric (excellent song placement), kind of like a lost Tommy James riff coated with British psychedelia. "Four Channel Town" is another tune driven by a pop riff, a nice change of pace from the subdued "Garden." Narducy's vocals cut right through all the madness, a good contrast to the elegant musicianship. And playing rock this hard "elegantly" is not easy. Verbow has a driving vibe without a formula, which is unusual -- maybe 50 paces to the left of Oasis. The band's originality may keep it in the underground. That would be a shame. Music this good can educate the masses, but the glass ceiling created by commercial radio tends to keep sounds like this nice 'n rare.

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