Over the last five years, a secret society of bands darting back and forth between indie-pop and Americana has made some very memorable, just-left-of-center, song-based rock. The Pernice Brothers, Dolly Varden, Hazeldine, Clem Snide and Nadine (for starters) haven't quite broken the urban hipsters' icy, Radiohead-is-God glare or shaken off comparisons to Wilco, but they also haven't succumbed to either genre's more obvious clichés. Number Gingersol among them. Based in LA, the quartet communicates fulsome melodies, the kind that might cause Brian Wilson to seek further therapy sessions should he ever spin The Train Wreck is Behind You (the band's most recent but now two-year-old disc). Any tunesmith stumbling across Gingersol's barely distributed records might feel the same anxiety of influence, the same sweet pang of envy and "why-didn't-I-think-of-that." But here's what Gingersol thinks of: post-teenage malaise, guitar pedals, the long haul of love, lo-fi vocals, betrayed faith, toy pianos and Big Star.
Songwriters and singers Steve Tagliere and Seth Rothschild met in 1999, and along with the rhythm section of John Florance and Chuck Bramlet, they've begun to craft quick, imagistic flare-ups -- no emo-noise or jam-band wanking -- stating their themes (girls, mostly) and riding the hell out on a jet stream of Byrdsy harmonies, percolating synths and beautifully bent guitar chords. The glinting, swaying title track to Train Wreck lasts little over a minute -- long enough to dazzle and tease -- before merging into "Underneath the Radar," which is so magically terse that it almost feels unfinished. Add one tender, unselfconscious (or is it unconscious?) homage to playing with oneself, and you have an unassuming roots-pop gem. "You don't really have to show me/What to do when you're not there," Rothschild sings, as the band gets all strung out on another summery hook, another quiet call to hum along. Call it "progressive power pop" or "experimental west-coast roots" or the next small thing -- just go hear them.
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