by Mike Corrigan and Luke Baumgarten & r & Comet Gain & lt;a href= & quot;http://click.linksynergy.com/fs-bin/click?id=rQy1MLe70wI & amp;offerid=78941.468174854 & amp;type=10 & amp;subid= & quot; & City Fallen Leaves & lt;/a & ***** & r & Worth the wait and then some, Comet Gain's latest is a catchy, casually brilliant masterpiece. Surrendering none of the shambling charm of previous albums, this UK collective has turned in its most evocative, literate and assured song collection since 2002's Realistes. Within the warm confines of City Fallen Leaves (Kill Rock Stars), rich chamber pop and ragged minimalist rock are allowed to mate, generating a terrifically satisfying sonic push-pull (boy-girl vocals only add to the fun). Underneath, lyrics confront the loss of friendships and the contradiction of punks aging while sketching intimate, deeply moving portraits of modern young people -- and young-at-hearts -- fumbling for identity and meaning.
All these sentiments collide and coalesce over 16 tracks, ultimately producing the breathtaking album finale, "The Ballad of a Mixtape," an aching paean to counter-culture, secret histories and music with the power to save lives: "We found a sound in the underground / We felt so proud to be underground." I'm telling you, if Comet Gain can't crack open your jaded heart, nothing can. -- Mike Corrigan
Seaweed Jack & lt;a href="http://www.seaweedjack.com/shop/" & The Captain & lt;/a & *** & r & The ghost of Raindogs-era Tom Waits is alive and bunking down just off Division with the members of Seaweed Jack. Their new album, The Captain, is a flurry of maritime angst, wherein singer Geoff Doolittle moans, howls and croons over accordion, dropped-chain percussion and other dockside bric-a-brac.
Those tropes are the most immediate and arresting, but this is far from a one-dimensional album. The longshoreman-like dirges are inflected with Modest Mousian elements and the occasional flit of prog virtuosity to create something far more atmospheric than we land-locked Spokanites are usually privy to. Whatever brief, transgressive skanking happens can be forgiven a band from a school (Gonzaga) where ska's unfortunate monolith still looms large.
The Captain isn't perfect, but its failures aren't the result of Seaweed Jack playing it safe. There's so much dabbling in divergent sounds and sensibilities, for example, the album tends to lack cohesion. Again, though, I'll take faults of ambition over the ballast of complacency any day. A solid album, and a thrilling first effort. -- Luke Baumgarten