Eleventh Dream Day: Stalled Parade

Eleventh Dream Day: Stalled Parade

Over the past several years, Eleventh Dream Day has survived setbacks that would have crippled weaker-willed bands. After getting dropped from Atlantic, the group was quickly picked up by indie giant Thrill Jockey, which happens to be run by the former A&R woman who signed Eleventh Dream Day to its old major-label home. When the band was reduced from a quartet to the core trio of Rick Rizzo, Janet Bean, and Doug McCombs, it used the change as an excuse to experiment more in the studio and on stage. Finally, a shift from regular touring to infrequent one-offs allowed members to pursue other projects, from Freakwater to Tortoise to any number of collaborations. Yet somehow Eleventh Dream Day has remained vital and exciting despite the shifting priorities. After the slightly more subtle Ursa Major And Eighth, Stalled Parade marks something of a return to straight-ahead rock for the band, no doubt an exciting prospect for its diehard fans. That's not to say Eleventh Dream Day has abandoned the creative promise of its last two records, instead combining the power of its punky, Neil Young-inspired rave-ups with its fondness for odd arrangements and odder sounds. Rizzo revs up one of his trademark guitar squalls on the epic title track, but you can hear the way the distortion and feedback are being artfully sculpted by producer and co-conspirator John McEntire (Tortoise, The Sea And Cake, Stereolab). The song sounds like "Like A Hurricane" recorded by Brian Eno. Likewise, "Ice Storm" combines garage-rock primitivism with Rizzo's furious and deranged guitar tricks, while "Interstate" and "Ground Point Zero" hint at the dissonant interplay of classic Sonic Youth. As usual, ballads such as "Valrico74" and "In The Style of..." stand out for their haunted beauty, the former featuring a Bean vocal so subdued it's creepy. Stalled Parade ends on a slightly less dramatic note, with "Bite The Hand" and the summer-breeze perfection of "Way Too Early On A Sunday Morning" capping another stunning effort from a band so strong that the three-year wait between albums can seem grueling.

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