Free Electric State's Caress | Record Review | Indy Week
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Free Electric State's Caress 

(Churchkey Records)

The way Free Electric State bends their guitar strings might bring to mind all sorts of beloved shoegaze bands from the heyday of Creation Records, but the one name that seems most appropriate to check here is Swervedriver. Free Electric State doesn't share that group's penchant for hard-boiled, noir-flavored narratives, but they're of a like mind when it comes to employing their pedals with an intent to rock out, not bliss out. Indeed, if someone uses the term "shoe-grunge" to describe this group's charms, I hope they do so with the best of intentions.

Caress, the group's full-length debut, begins with a bit of deception as guitarist David Koslowski takes a turn at the microphone for "Matching Scars." He's not bad by any means, and it would take a lot worse to make this tune's pummeling onslaught and guitar heroics hard to enjoy. However, it's when bassist Shirlé Hale takes over on lead vocals for the next track (and the majority of the album) that Caress truly works. The melodic sweetness inherent in Hale's voice disguises a sultry sneer that gives the album's tunes a more distinctive personality. She lends the state-of-the-'90s alt-rock balladry of "Darkest Hour" a little needed edge, gives an anthemic grandeur to the Pixies-like swagger of "The Black Sea" and infuses "Six Is One" with an infectious nerve.

As you might gather from the references here, Free Electric State offers kicks that are laced with a bit of nostalgia, but that doesn't mean they sound long in the tooth. If anything, Caress sounds like the work of a group that's looking backward to move forward.

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Where is the Q and A with Pepper?

by Alex Marsh on Record Review: Hardcore Titans Corrosion of Conformity Bring Pepper Keenan Back Into the Fold (Record Review)

There's bass in this. It's not a duo, at least in the recordings. …

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Where is the Q and A with Pepper?

by Alex Marsh on Record Review: Hardcore Titans Corrosion of Conformity Bring Pepper Keenan Back Into the Fold (Record Review)

There's bass in this. It's not a duo, at least in the recordings. …

by Steve Grothmann on Record Review: Raleigh's Naked Naps Explore Urgency on Year of the Chump (Record Review)

Remember that time the "journalist" took to the comments section to fire off a snarky response when called out on …

by JayDubz on Record Review: Raleigh's Naked Naps Explore Urgency on Year of the Chump (Record Review)

Pretty sure that if the press release we received had mentioned Chris Grubbs, the article would have reflected that crucial …

by David Klein on Record Review: Raleigh's Naked Naps Explore Urgency on Year of the Chump (Record Review)

Pretty sure John Meier hasn't been in this band for quite some time and Chris Grubbs wrote and recorded this …

by JayDubz on Record Review: Raleigh's Naked Naps Explore Urgency on Year of the Chump (Record Review)

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