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Acetone | York Blvd. (Vapor Records)
Jason Pierce is oft-quoted that he feels Acetone to be the best band in the world. A mite overstated, but they are very good indeed. The way in which Acetone use guitars will be a factor in Pierce's appreciation, and the way you're never sure of what they'll do next with them is another. Each of their previous four albums cover many ways of using strings and fretboards. York Blvd. continues the trend, further impressing what a hugely underrated band this is. There's something very seductive about the music of Acetone. Perhaps it is the assured way in which Richie Lee, Steve Hadley and Mark Lightcap handle their, er, instruments. They are marvellous musicians, totally in control of the sounds they make. This incarnation of Acetone is sooo laid back and sexy, and yet another development in their fascinating evolution. This time, the band wears influences or current passions on sleeves, and there are frequent nods to guitar maestros past and present. The first sign of this is in the opener, Things Are Gonna Be Alright, when Lightcap's guitar briefly mimics Ernie Isley, before giving in to a dreamy pedal-steel. The Isley sound is even more evident in the tasty little solo of Vibrato. The fluidity of Peter Green and Paul Kossoff permeates the haunting 19, but it also has the rawness of J Mascis. The most obvious homage is paid to Jimi Hendrix in the choppy mid-tempo funk of It's A Lie, featuring a steal in tone from If 6 Was 9. Instrumental wonder aside, the vocals are hushed and droning, often treated just enough to make lyrics indecipherable. Other times, they couldn't be clearer, but are still extremely relaxed, bringing to mind The Grateful Dead on the chugging boogie of Like I Told You. In fact the vocals add colour to the music such is Acetone's sonic dynamic, but if they weren't there, we'd have an instrumental band capable of inducing diarrhoea in Stuart Braithwaite. So this Acetone is exploring the blues idiom now, making York Blvd. neither better nor worse than any of their previous efforts - it's another fine album from a reliable and important guitar band.

Tom Sheriff
June-July 2001