June 21, 2007

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Bitter Bitter Weeks, Peace is Burning Like a River
High Two Records, 2007

In his third full-length LP, Philadelphia’s Brian McTear condenses his keep-it-simple 80s-indie formula, obsessing less on lonely-spotlight unpluggedness and more on full-band, edge-of-the-world four-chord fluff-pomp. His voice is of trademark caliber now, tempering the antsiness of Paul Westerberg with Ben Gibbard’s mousy lilt, microphone effects set to back-of-the-high-school-auditorium. In further keeping with the inaccurate Paisley Underground comparisons that might have popped into your head by now, there’s a boozy feel to the tracks, but it evinces third-martini tipsiness, not tongue-lolling incapacitation. These highly polished songs are compatible with listeners who don’t get much out of watching nervous songwriters exhausting themselves hucking fifty different genres against non-stick walls, which of course became all the rage in the current market after someone dumped a few too many barrels of Instant Moron in the Bowery Ballroom water supply. Oooohs and oh-oh-ohs are placed just so, mostly nailing the fadeout-worthy grandeur they target; those and other facets are brought to life by representatives of several bands McTear’s helped to produce/engineer in the past, such as the A-Sides and Mazarin. B — Eric W. Saeger