Hudson Bell When the Sun Is the Moon

[Monitor; 2005]

Rating: 3.5/5

Styles: indie rock, guitar rock, slacker rock
Others: Built to Spill, Modest Mouse, Pavement

Hudson Bell, which is the name of the man who fronts this band, is a San Francisco-based indie guitar rock project. When the Sun Is the Moon is Bell's second full-length and his first for Baltimore label Monitor Records. Like just about all easily classifiable modern indie rock albums, it's nothing particularly original, but after listening to album after album of mediocre also-rans, it's even more impressive that this disc from a band I'd never heard of manages to make me pay attention.

Bell's touchstones are old Merge Records bands (his producer here, Chris Palamtier, is a Chapel Hill ex-pat) and easy favorites like Built to Spill, Modest Mouse, and Pavement. When the Sun Is the Moon apes each of these in turn: "Atlantis Nights" is Malkmus, "The Falls" is Brock, and "Seven Cities" is Martsch. Even lyrics are typically elliptical: "Seein' how we can be/ Bein' how we could see the lie." The shambling guitar solos push this seven-song LP out to nearly 40 minutes, but every song, with the possible exception of the opener "Slow Burn," whose stammering chorus is too gimmicky, has a winding melody catchy enough to carry it. Hudson Bell isn't a pioneer, but in this genre, anything that escapes monotony, even if by copying securely excellent acts, is more than welcome.

1. Slow Burn
2. Atlantis Nights
3. The Falls
4. Seven Cities
5. The Midnight Year
6. Strange Lands
7. Sea Horse

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