Little Left To See (2005, SlowBlue)
seconds into So Little Left To See I had realized I was
going to like this. The band revs up their engines and twangs their
way immediately right down Summerteeth Ave. The bass bubbles,
the drums are up front and guitars wail and howl whiskey. However,
lead piper Steven Takeuchi's throaty drawl is more Jay Farrar or
Howe Gelb (Giant Sand) than Jeff Tweedy. The band sounds remarkably
tight given they haven't been playing together for very long. But
not all is straightforward Americana 'n Roll here.
The album's premiere highlight, 'Weird', has an
unexpected ambient feel to it with its payload of big, booming drums,
eerie guitars and Takeuchi groaning the chorus, 'there's something
weird going on around here, I couldn't say what it was'. The gently
plucked guitar, dirgey organ and twinkling piano on 'Winter' makes
for a somber affair while the moving country-stomp of 'Take A Chance'
recalled the more southern-fried side of the Mekons or Sadies. The
instrumental (and aptly-named) 'Drone' situates itself nicely in
the latter half of the album. I got a pretty big Mazzy Star vibe
here. I can almost hear Hope Sandoval and Takeuchi cooing in unison
over the smooth, hazy arrangements. Ah, one can only wish. There's
even a few moments of straight up hoedown fun on the undeniably
catchy and playful 'Eyes'.
band has been compared to Uncle Tupelo in the past and I'm going
to reiterate that theme. What separated that outfit from many current
artists emulating their sound is UT were always willing to skate
the thin ice on a long pond. You'll find Takeuchi and friends following
that routine and succeeding just as well on So Little Left To
See. There's a dreamy, yet rugged and urgent, quality to just
about all of these songs - adding charm where it's least expected.
Couple that with strong songcrafting and more than capable musicians
and it allows for quite the memorable release. Takeuchi recently
moved to NYC while the other band members remained behind in Seattle.
Let's hope the band can find the time and resources to continue