About the fourth or fifth time I put this new Assembly of Dust CD on, I thought my player was still on shuffle mode – surely this wasn’t a new CD; it must be one of my old favorites. That’s the kind of armchair-comfy feeling I get from this band. I slip into listening to it the way I’d slip into a well-worn pair of jeans. And for me that’s a good thing.
The press materials list a slew of classic acts that influenced Assembly of Dust, and sure, I can hear elements of various well-known bands in their music. The thing is, they’re picking up the right elements, and fusing them in tracks that make total musical sense. Put together those magisterial Garth Hudson organ riffs from The Band, close harmonies on the order of Crosby Stills & Nash, and a jazz-infused rhythmic groove that could have come from Steely Dan – what could be wrong with that?
Lead vocalist Reid Genauer’s earnest tenor calls to mind Jackson Browne, or maybe early Daryl Hall (there’s plenty of sweet soul music swirling around here too). It’s like an Americana melting pot, one that doesn’t ignore Detroit or Philly, either; I don’t have to learn a new vocabulary to speak this language. I don't have to break in these shoes before walking a mile in them.
As you’d expect from an album titled Recollection, several tracks suggest tales told by offbeat characters – bootleggers, junkyard scavengers, factory workers – but you don’t get coherent stories so much as rambling, cryptic reminiscences. The CD booklet prints the lyrics, but it’s best just to let the phrases resonate as they occur – or, as the track “Zero to the Skin” puts it, “Let the music carry you / You’re standing in your skin.”
When you hear them sung, it's rhymes and vowel echoes that matter, not narrative — like the hypnotic refrain of my favorite track on the album, "Samuel Aging": "Spells and curses / Bells and churches / Peeling bells / The silence swells / Well well well." If I had to write an English paper I couldn't explain what it means — but I don't have to write an English paper on it. It's ROCK MUSIC. Get over it.