The Phoenix Network:
About  |  Advertise
Adult  |  Moonsigns  |  Band Guide  |  Blogs  |  In Pictures
CD Reviews  |  Classical  |  Live Reviews  |  Music Features

Small Black | New Chain

Jagjaguwar (2010)
By REYAN ALI  |  November 16, 2010
2.5 2.5 Stars


Listening to Small Black perform New Chain is like watching lovely but reclusive exotic fish wander around a fortified aquarium. There's a sense of distance in both scenarios: observe the mysterious creatures all you please, but their dialogue takes place underwater on a plane you're not privy to. Certainly don't expect the sensation of touch. This is how New Chain comes off as at first — a low-key debut populated by whistling blips, delicate drumbeats, and Josh Kolenik's half-audible murmurs, all resting on a cozy cushion where reality can't do them harm. But residing beneath the top layer of smoky "Casio dream noise pop" (Kolenik's description) is a tenderness that has been affected by life's miseries, and when the Brooklyn group dive headfirst into sad, sad sounds, they shine. Fragments of "Search Party" evoke the glummest post-punk; the breathy chorus of the celestial "Photojournalist" sums up what makes the band's spirit enticing: "Rise up again/Rise up again/Like a ghost." The only catch is that some songs are too reticent, with the spark of the melodies buried under zoned-out flotsam. (And if you go hunting for those melodies, you may find that not all are worth the search.) At this stage, Small Black are a charming but undeveloped outfit. Moving from an aquarium to a sea (or even a pond) would be an intriguing next step.

SMALL BLACK + CLASS ACTRESS + STEREO TELESCOPE | Great Scott, 1222 Comm Ave, Allston | November 21 at 9pm | 18+ | $10 | 617.566.9014 or

Related: Unhappy birthday, Fall Local Pop Preview: Changing scene, Nachtmystium: black-metal psych-out, More more >
  Topics: CD Reviews , Music, great Scott, Jagjaguwar,  More more >
| More
Add Comment
HTML Prohibited

 Friends' Activity   Popular   Most Viewed 
[ 12/27 ]   The Christmas Revels  @ Sanders Theatre
[ 12/27 ]   "Disfarmer Photos"  @ Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art
Share this entry with Delicious

 See all articles by: REYAN ALI

RSS Feed of for the most popular articles
 Most Viewed   Most Emailed 

  |  Sign In  |  Register
Phoenix Media/Communications Group:
Copyright © 2010 The Phoenix Media/Communications Group