A self-recorded, self-produced, at times slightly over-the-top gem from NYC "supergroup" Cardia, consisting of Rival Schools' Ian Love on vocals and guitar, Andy Action of 2 Skinnee J's on drums, St. John Scott IV of Shudder to Think on guitars, and the Verve Pipe's Brad Vanderark on bass.
The action centers on Ian Love's pole vaulting vocals and the swirling, epic guitar noise of Love and Scott in a successful melding of the shoe gazing, space rock, and art noise traditions. The sound is unique but echoes of Radiohead, Jeff Buckley, Travis, Sonic Youth, Slowdive, and Ride circulate freely.
Singer Love works mightily to enter the soaring vocal stratosphere of a Yorke or Buckley, and though he doesn't quite get there - he is best when he struggles least - that doesn't mean he won't get there eventually, nor does it reduce my admiration for the effort.
"Crash" is great, buzzy noise by way of introduction. "Stars" begins as Radiohead and ends as Soundgarden, a seeming impossibility made flesh and (by the final scream) curdling blood. "Your Eyes" (love it) achieves a splendid backbeat garage-rock momentum and tonality that would be right at home on a Strokes record - New York City asserting itself perhaps.
"Love Loss" crosses the Atlantic again for a Travis vocal and melody over a big booming Chapterhouse-like beat that builds and builds as Love ascends his vocal staircase once again, this time without falling off - very impressive. "Our Love is Real" is glorious waves of reverbed guitar with a catchy slide hook and Love triple-jumping through another exceptional melody near the end of his rope.
"Sweet Return" is a gentle, lovely brushed-beat waltz where Love is perhaps least affected in his delivery, at least until the end when he is again menaced by the helium enema. "Last Forever" rocks beautifully, confidently with a slight atonal bite to the guitar like the best of My Bloody Valentine - overall, the best song on a very fine album.
If you like any one of the artists mentioned herein, you owe it to yourself to get in on the ground floor with a band that could rise to the very top if it finds what should be a very broad natural audience - and I hope it does.
(special thanks to Dawn Olsen for help with this review, i.e. taking notes in the dark and contributing pithy thoughts as we drove through the hills and dales of Pennsylvania)