Talbot Tagora Lessons in the Woods or a City

[Hardly Art; 2009]

Styles: post-punk, rockabilly
Others: Abe Vigoda when they were loud and, uh, interesting

Already missing Abe Vigoda’s ferocious, nonstop post-punk approach? Based on the rotting Echo and the Bunnymen-isms of this year’s Reviver EP, I don’t blame you (I would blame their new drummer, though). Luckily for us, we live in the internet age, and as quickly as it took for the boys in Abe Vigoda to bemoan their affixed “tropical-punk” pigeonholing, it’s taken even quicker for the scrappy group of replacements that make up Talbot Tagora to crawl out of the Northwestern foliage.

Indeed, the group’s Hardly Art debut, Lessons in the Woods or a City, shares a good deal of sonic similarities with Abe Vigoda’s 2008 breakthrough, Skeleton: toppling drum figures that manage to distantly keep time, frantic guitar pacing, and more than enough seasick, psychedelic reverb. To be fair, though, Talbot Tagora’s art-rock pastiche carries sonic debts beyond whoever’s playing The Smell tomorrow night; the snotty sneers of “Mouth Rainboy” (“We can choose to go to hell if we want to/ Yes he likes this/ He’s a masochist”) are directly (and enjoyably) ripped from the late, great McLusky’s playbook, while the narcotic-rockabilly swagger and boy-girl dueting of “Perception Stick” could easily be mistaken for a Los Angeles-era X demo.

So they’ve got some reputable reference points, they’re on a label that gains a stronger repertoire with every release, and their rhythmic energy is propulsive in all the right ways, as evidenced on the guitar-led maelstrom that is “Solar Puppets” and the skipping stop-starts on “Hidden Note.” That being said, Lessons in the Woods or a City could have benefited from some slight editing, as well as an able producer’s hand to add some watery depths to the album’s arid, sun-stroked atmosphere. But for now, Talbot Tagora are the latest Left Coast noisemakers to keep your eye on. Let’s just hope they don’t start releasing Stevie Nicks covers in the next year or so.

1. Mixed Signals Through Miles of Pilgimage
2. Ichthus Hop
3. Bounty Hunter
4. Solar Puppets
5. Hunger Strike
6. Black Ice
7. Mouth Rainboy
8. Hidden Note
9. Hairspray
10. Johnny Lazor
11. Replacing the Northwest
12. Perception Stick
13. Belt of Cancer
14. Ephemeral Summer

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