Pumice Pebbles

[Soft Abuse; 2007]

Rating: 4.5/5

Styles: lo-fi organized chaos, noisy rockabilly
Others: Violent Femmes, Why?, Alastair Galbraith, NMH

Stefan Neville records his music with an 8-track tape machine. He’s a New Zealander — an NZ puddle shoveler. He splashes entire seas against his cerebellum, voluntarily shorting out. How else is he going to wash behind his lids on “Eyebath”? It’s Sonic Youth rockabilly razzmatazz. Neville’s vim, we’ll call it. My sister used to pronounce the now defunct supermarket Grand Union as Grand Onion on any regular visit — my brain would twit when she did it. “Onion Union” is the music biographical detail of that memory of mine. How could Stefan N. know? His obscurity adds to his appeal. He could appear in your small town America bingo hall for a show just as easily as he could vanish down a toilet bowl, swirling counterclockwise, liquefied into nonexistence. You feel privileged, suspicious, and lucky to hear his compositions. His lyrics: bilge. “Greenock” is a dirge. Sizzling noise can be a drudge, but your patience doesn’t falter or budge with Pebbles. It’s like the cover — the girl in the blue long sleeves and Gilligan hat, juggling eight stones in the cradle of her left arm, while carefully studying one more in her right hand. The unexamined Pumice album is not worth listening to. Neville’s lava globs, his volcanic froth, are worth putting on your socks and tees and hunting him down for a concert — demand it! He’s a secret. He’s Yoni Wolf in a Cincinnati slum; a Robert Pollard or some prick condensing a gorgeous mess onto tape. His eking fuzz campaigns give way and free reign to slurring, alluring acoustic ditties. Don’t dare question my judgment. Paragraph done.

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