Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Mazzy Star Plays Seasons Of Your Day

Mazzy Star
When Mazzy Star dissolved in 1997, there was little reason to expect to see them again. They more or less formed out of David Roback's successful band Opal with the addition of Hope Sandoval, creating a duo who could truly capitalize on slow droning guitars with flecks of blues, folk and psychedelic.

After almost a decade playing around together, major labels began to turn their backs on the underground sound that made Mazzy Star in the hope that they could ring in a formula. It didn't work for anyone, least of all guitarist-songwriter Roback, who has remained mostly quiet after the breakup (he wrote and produced a few songs for film).

Sandoval, on the other hand, tried to expand her creative horizons in a different way. By making guest appearances with the Jesus & Mary Chain, Munki, and the Chemical Brothers, she eventually settled into a solo career, teaming up with the Warm Inventors. This was the course she might have continued had Virgin Media not used Into Dust from So Tonight That I Might See for a commercial.

Seasons Of Your Day solidifies a timeless chemistry.

Although it took considerable time to put everything in place after vintage Mazzy Star reappeared on the charts in 2009, it's plainly clear that the reformation of the band is complete. The three-year revival has finally culminated with their fourth full-length album, the first since 1996.

Joined by original members Suki Ewers (keys) and Keith Mitchell (drums) and newcomers Colm O Ciosoig (bass) and guitarist Josh Yenne (guitar), Seasons Of Your Day revives their familiar contemplative drone. It immediately draws you in as if it isn't so far from where they left off.

Every inch of the 10-track album is a slow burning reminder of the hypnotic and weary balance between Sandoval's captivating voice and Roback's quiet and purposeful guitar work. The result is a hum that lays down a canvas for Sandoval to layer on lonesome, time-swept lyrics.

The track California effortlessly recreates the time and space between the place they left and the place they intend to return to. There is a hopeful cadence in the song, despite summer being left behind for late autumn (or maybe winter) on the horizon.

The crispness in Sandoval's vocals on this track and a couple of others has led some to speculate that the band is using material written almost two decades ago, as many as two albums' worth, to resurrect the past more than recreate it. But even if that were true, it doesn't detract from the warm and haunting duality of the song, looking backward and forward at the same time. It's even more impactful in person.

Look for other songs to lock down sensory perception to a single location as well. For example, In The Kingdom is about a place where they can be heard in the distance. The music this band makes creates pause for anyone within earshot, reassuring them that things will be okay as long as the music plays on.

Other standout tracks include the blues-imbued Sparrow, the regret-laced strum of Lay Myself Down, and the six-minute meanderings of Spoon. While the songwriting on Spoon isn't necessarily the best on the album, Bert Jansch and Roback put together a very listenable and sizzling guitar duo.

Where the album falls slightly short is in its lack of variance. It doesn't take long before one track starts to drift into the next, creating an illusion that this is an album best played start to finish. It can be, but really isn't. The strength of Mazzy Star lays in appreciating how arresting these songs can be when they break up the monotony of anything remotely mainstream.

Seasons Of Your Day By Mazzy Star Soaks Up 8.2 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale. 

Mazzy Star is somewhat of an acquired taste. But more than that, it still manages to set up Sandoval to deliver her more penetrating and provocative vocal performances. While Seasons Of Your Day never manages to be sexy, it does create a smoky haze around your head long enough to forget any troubles with the rest of the world.

Seasons of Your Day by Mazzy Star is available on Amazon or you can order the album from Barnes & Noble. Seasons of Your Day is also available from iTunes. The album was recorded in Norway and California. Rhymes Of An Hour Records is the label they created for this new venture. For tour dates, visit Mazzy Star on Facebook. November is especially packed.
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