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Reviews

Citay
Dream Get Together John Calvert , February 9th, 2010 09:34

As is true of any impressively authentic exercise in revivalism, be it millennial post-punk or Electroclash, for the artist it's all about escape. The more bountiful the music is of period detail the more powerful the time machine, and all the closer the revivalist is to transporting to romanticised times, where they can at last claim the experience denied to them by the inconvenience of being born too late. To paraphrase Citay's triumphant cover of Galaxie 500's 'Tugboat' "There's a place I'd like to be / There's a place I'd be happy".

San Francisco's burgeoning 'New Psyche' craze in is bracketed on the one hand by cult group secret Sleepy Sun, and on the other Erza Feinberg and his band of merry retrophiles in fantastical jam band Citay. If it's Wooden Shjips' more modern, Krautrock-informed drone that's mugging the scene's press, its Sleepy Sun and Citay who betoken the sub-culture's guiding philosophy; the motif being straight pastiche.

That said, Feinberg is loathe to let the demands of verisimilitude get in the way of a good time. The ethos might be pure but the music is often corrupted by anachronistic outlandishness. If they're a harsher and immeasurably more transporting prospect, Sleepy Sun can be likened to Citay in their penchant for excess. Contrastingly though, while last year's Sleepy Sun debut Embrace sequestered barbaric Sabbath riffage, Citay prefer to colour their soft edged naturalism with flashy poodle-rock, which is the mood that seems to have taken them on opener 'Careful With That Hat'. Throughout Dream Get Together the guitar heroics are as conspicuous as David Lee Roth at a Fugazi gig. This is especially so on 'Fortunate Sun' and the frankly preposterous 'Hunter', which disturbs your campfire slumber with a cameo from Eddie 'Fingers' Ojeda. The most tasteless moment on the album, the title track sounds like some horrible British pop-metal abomination we thankfully can't recall the name of; the type of song Jeremy Clarkson would patronizes his wife to.

When they do hold fast to a traditional psyche-rock style, though, Citay mix and match their way through the era with impunity. After attempting the naïve optimism synonymous with the folksy likes of The Mammas and Pappas, they ease into extended electric noodling directly influenced by the relatively more confrontational Grateful Dead, while 'Secret Breakfast' toys with Sgt. Pepper-esque eastern stylings. There are also shades of 'Pipers'-period Pink Floyd and the point at which psychedelia began to merge with the avant-garde, begetting Prog, manifested here in frostings of abstract synths.

The aforementioned instrumental 'Secret Breakfast' is your archetypal hippy reverie. It's their most retro moment and about as psychedelic as Dream Get Together gets, making it their keynote track. Which poses the question: is this the most effectually mind-expanding your garden variety psyche-rock can hope to be now? It almost seems grounded, numerical and most of all dowdy next to say Merriweather Post Pavilion and its bizarrely indeterminate post-techno fantasia. In fact, this type of bucolic day-dream was theoretically outmoded with the arrival of Wire's 1978 opus Chairs Missing. That was post punk's first psychedelic album, which exchanged Citay's Californian redwoods for interior landscapes, converting modern neurosis into the stark psychedelia of inner space - far more perception-altering.

Nevertheless, album highlight 'Mirror Kisses', with its flower-in-the-gun-barrel sentiment and listless harmonies, is a soothing elixir, sculpted with a monistic serenity. It's that type of nourishing pre-punk entity that proposes you reassess your punk ideals. Give us destruction, mindless fury, dead-eyed humour and Songs About Fucking, any day. Give us alienation, self abasement, give us trepanning minimalism; three chords only, the Velvet Undergroud and morbid eroticism, give us punk rock. Perhaps this is where Citay have succeeded, in that when they aren't breaking formation for unabashed self-aggrandisement, so convincing is their 60s recreation that, like the generation that followed, we hanker for what is to come next.

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