Artichoke Evaporation

[self-released; 2002]

Rating: 3/5

Styles: indie rock, alternative rock
Others: Pavement, Pixies, Smugglers

School is almost over. Needless to say, parties are inevitable; but you're probably deciding on what kind of music you should have. Well, fret no longer: Artichoke is the perfect party band-- not only in the sense that they have fun, upbeat party tendencies, but they also have slower ballads. And not the kind of ballad that gives you a warm, sappy feeling (in other words, feelings men have troubles relating to), but the quirky kind that'll have you and your dance partner smiling from ear to ear. They even come with hats! How can you go wrong?

Artichoke is a typical 2-year old Los Angeles-based rock outfit. The quartet creates energetic, head-nodding indie-rock music that'll have you bouncing up and down for hours long after the music stops. Ranging from loud and distorted, to delayed guitars and tame instrumentation, the band prove that the indie-rock of the early-to-mid 90s is still very much alive. And the nonchalant execution is very inviting, considering the over abundance of polished indie-rock albums out there.

Evaporation is not only replete with conventional rock instruments, but also keyboards and other effects that inject a warm ambience. The vocals are extremely catchy containing puerile harmonies that hug the essential lines of the songs. For the most part, the lyrics mean nothing more than what they are: adolescent ideas and revelations. But the band is not here to change the world, they are here to provide a transient relief from the blanket of politics and cynicism.

Though most of the songs are equally strong, opening track "What Weekend Ha Ha Ha" seems to protrude a little further than the rest. What it has that other tracks do not is very creative rhythms and an effective 5/4 time signature. Elsewhere, "More Spackling Tools" is a 40 sec piano interlude that segues perfectly into the melodic "Atoms Divide," creating a short escape from the upbeat pop that dominates most of Evaporation.

The trouble is, Artichoke is essentially a near exact replica of indie-rock pioneers Pavement. Everywhere from the quirky, tongue-in-cheek lyrics ("I'm captain hook / She's an organ grinder / Her sister is a furry beat / Subble and a brown mustache / A monkey on a leash"), to the sloppy instrumentation prove that Pavement must be its primary beacon. Even the melodies (both vocal and guitar) seem very Pavement (circa Crooked Rain Crooked Rain). Throw in some Pixies, Smugglers, Lou Reed and a dash Supergrass and you are essentially left with the album in question.

Another noteworthy element is the length of the album. It is just way too long for music like this. One full hour partitioned into 17-tracks results in redundancy and boredom. Despite the length, each individual track is as relatively strong as the next. But listening to the entire album can be somewhat of a chore, which ultimately effects the appreciation of the last half of the album.

If the overwhelming 17-tracks were cut by six or seven songs, and I had never heard of Pavement, then I would have given Evaporation a much higher rating. Unfortunately, there's no circumventing the facts: It really is an hour long and it really does sound like a CA version of Pavement. Still, Artichoke's Evaporation is still successful on many levels, and if you're one of the unfortunate souls not familiar with Pavement, purchase Evaporation and not Brighten the Corners, at least then you'll be able to book an active band for your party rather than a controlling egotistical fronted band of the nineties.

1. What Weekend Ha Ha Ha
2. Dismayed
3. Halloween
4. The Weather Song
5. Noah
6. Mix Tape
7. Jesus Died on a Friday
8. More Spackling Tools
9. Atoms Divide
10. Uncle Jim's Mechanical
11. Abstract Red Adam
12. Gray Day
13. Zoo
14. Lillie
15. Scratch
16. No Domino
17. Kite