Citay Citay

[Important; 2006]

Rating: 4/5

Styles: guitar rock, riff pop, psych-pop
Others: Apothecary Hymns, Led Zeppelin III, Roy Harper, Beachwood Sparks, Terry Reid

One of the best things that the '90s post-rock revolution accomplished was to make the underground rock community more acutely intertextual. From sly titular references to one another (The Sea and Cake naming themselves after Gastr del Sol's "The C in Cake," for instance) to passages that might as well have been directly lifted from other songs (such as Tortoise's Music for 18 Musicians-cribbing mallet break in "Djed"), post-rockers dropped a number of not-so-subtle hints that they were spending as much time listening to music as they were making it. In feeling the need to openly converse with their forebears and contemporaries, groups like Stereolab, Moonshake, and Ui sent listeners scrambling to hear the music to which their songs were responding, and as many of post-rock's reference points were obscure and long-forgotten, a concurrent reissue culture was born to allow listeners access to the Neu!, John Fahey, and Ray Russell albums that their favorite artists were nodding towards.

Now, I imagine that many independent record stores sell as many recently reissued rock albums as they do recently released rock records, and if Dusted's weekly "Listed" column is any indicator, practically every person who picks up a guitar these days does so with a firm, perhaps even overbearing sense of musical heritage and history. In today's post-post-rock, backwards-is-as-good-as-forwards environment, it's not surprising that revisions and reinterpretations of older music have superceded post-rock's radical recontextualizations. Instead of synthesizing diverse influences in order to completely rethink their place in the canon, underground rock artists now seem more interested in relatively sincere patchworks of the sounds they've come to know and love.

It's in this quilt-weaving camp that Citay rest. A songwriting vehicle for former Piano Magic drummer Ezra Feinberg, Citay present a highly stylized collage of early 1970s guitar pop that connects the dots between put-the-fire-back-in-your-marriage soft rock softshoe, bong 'n' bongo totin' outsider folk, sinewy white boy blues, and glammed-out guitar geekery. In Feinberg's mind, Joni Mitchell, Black Sabbath, and Roy Harper are three tributaries to the same stream.

As much as Feinberg and friends (who include Fucking Champ Tim Green) try to relegate their source material to the Nixon years, their means of assimilating influences smacks of mid-'90s Chicago. "Seasons Don't Fear the Year" would sit well on an O'Rourke pop record, with sparkling synths, wailing guitar leads, and flute locking together carefully to create the sort of baroque tapestry that recalls King Jim's signature touch. "Nice Cuffs" betrays the nature of its revisionism more obviously: what begins as a rootsy slab of bottle-slide Delta stomp takes a Tortoise-y turn when twinkling vibraphones enter the equation. The triad of instrumentals that comprise the album's heart — "People Person," "Vinter," and "Sticks" — really underscore the post-rock influence. None of the '70s influences that Citay cull from would have even imagined finessing such an extended vox-free stretch, but Citay pull it off marvelously, creating tension with thrilling guitar duels and paying close attention to song-building subtleties. This kind of dizzying tour de force of '70s tropes demonstrates just how much the musicians have invested in this project — this isn't the sort of Gang of Four/Fall/PIL cut'n'paste we've seen in dance-punk circles, but a much more consciously artistic, endearingly nerdy love of Song and Sound. By using a toned-down version of post-rock experimentation, Citay pay homage on their own terms.

1. Seasons Don't Fear the Year
2. Nice Cuffs
3. People Person
4. Vinter
5. Sticks
6. Shalom of Safed
7. Mere Woods
8. What Never Was and What Should Have Been