Athens, GA is a hotspot for new talent, and one of the most promising acts in quite some time is the sometimes experimental, sometimes shoegaze greatness that is Venice Is Sinking (MySpace). AZAR is the quintet’s second; it’s an album packed with connotations like sometimes and conceptual and maybe even dreamy.
AZAR is a lot of things. It flickers back and forth between them continually. The title tracks, “AZAR One” through “AZAR Four”, are perfect examples, acting as transitions throughout the album, though the songs, to begin with, flow flawlessly from one to the next. In that regard, they also act as intermissions, breaks between greatness – a greatness that includes virtually every song on AZAR.
Beautifully crafted orchestration gives AZAR its dreamy nature. “Wetlands Dancehall” concludes with a pleasant string breakdown that leads into a guitar/string duet in “Young Master Sunshine”, which later champions trumpet. In these softer moments, hints of bedroom pop can be heard; but Venice Is Sinking also includes heavier hitters, like the powerful favorite, “Okay”, and the first single, “Ryan’s Song”.
To say Venice Is Sinking is at their best in the louder songs or during the softer ones would be to disgrace what they’ve created. Yes, this album is at times conceptual and the songs transition from one to the next very well, but each song has unique elements not found in those it accompanies. Likewise, the songs that feature dual male/female vocals are just as good as those that feature just male or just female. And the melodic and mesmerizing songs, like “Iron Range” are just as amazing as the more epic and powerful.
It’s quite apparent that much thought and planning and knowledge went into this album. And it all comes together is the closing tune, “Charm City”, the perfect blend of dreaminess, experimentation, emotion, instrumentation, orchestration… the list goes on. The song grows during its epic seven-and-a-half minutes, slowing building in volume until its conclusion. It is AZAR‘s anthem.
This all leads to one thing: AZAR will be a great contender for many Best of 2009 lists.
One Percent Press [CD, 2009]
1. AZAR One
2. Ryan’s Song
4. AZAR Two
5. Wetlands Dancehall
6. Young Master Sunshine
7. AZAR Three
9. Iron Range
10. AZAR Four
11. Charm City