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The Heavenly States: Black Comet

The Heavenly States: Black Comet

Release Date:2005

By Robbie Whelan | Posted 8/31/2005

The Heavenly States rock hard like Paul Westerberg. They pal around on tour and in the studio with Mac McCaughan and his Merge Records buddies. But if something about this Oakland, Calif.-based trio separates them from the college-radio AOR that they get lumped with, it’s mostly the strings.

On Black Comet, the band’s second full-length, violinist/violist Genevieve Gagon comes into her own, with a little help from her multi-instrumentalist brother Colin Michael. “Elastic Days” is the strongest track, with catchy, super-pop power chords and singer Ted Nesseth’s hoarse singing. It also highlights why live strings are so much better than synths. The Gagon siblings play lush harmonies that complement the simple chord structures. Sometimes they set them on edge. In the middle of the song, they even cut to a solemn but beautiful choralelike section.

The slower moments (“Song in F” and “The Witness”) feel like failed attempts at Being There-era Wilco. Black Comet is more enlivened by garage-plus-fiddle thumpers such as “Racetrack” and “Vacant,” while other tracks explore the potential of live strings in a power-pop three-piece. The Heavenly States are making impassioned, frantic rock in what’s often a fairly limited context.

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