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Summer Hymns / Bablicon | A Celebratory Arm Gesture / The Cat That Was A Dog (Misra)
Yes, yes, I know that the band known as Summer Hymns is based in Athens, Georgia, and is led by a gentleman named Zachary Gresham. There are the obligatory Elephant 6 connections, of course, and it's all about sloppy poppy tunes that combine all manner of instruments like autoharps and trombones and glockenspiels and synths in a bright neo-psychedelic manner that will either set your toes a-tapping and your butt a-wiggling or will drive you mad. But credentials and hip-quotiant points aside, they're really, really good at this stuff, and if you're into the whole Neutral Milk Hotel thingy then you¹ll make big puddles of joy over this disc. Tracks like Turn Here, Softigan and the gorgeous Closure Eyes are breezy and lush and winsome and all those adjectives we use for such adorable (but not particularly twee) music. Special prize for distinction goes to the beautiful and talented multi-instrumentalist Adrian Finch - also of Elf Power - for his fine playing throughout and for his top-notch vocals on the wonderfully charming Fuzzy Side of Life. Go Adrian! Rather less charming, however, is the new record from labelmates Bablicon, a self-proclaimed trio of post-rockers (imagine that having any relevance in 2001,) that starts out with fairly inept jazz piano and then goes on to meander its way through a series of shockingly bland 'experimental' tracks that mostly fail to engage - maybe because they¹re mostly very long and not particularly melodically strong or focused. Horns and strings and such swoon and rant and tremble and generally make themselves annoying amongst the samples and noise, and there's very little in the way of vocals. Blessing or curse? You decide. Bland as it all is, though, there are some perfectly polite, textural moments of orchestral badinage that would (potentially) make great samples on someone else's records. But mostly the noodling just goes on and on and on and on. And on. And on. And. On. And. On. Andonandon-untilyouwantto...
CWAS #8 - Summer 2001