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The Czars
Music From The Film I'd Rather Be Gone EP
(Absalom Records)

In case you haven't heard of it, Absalom Records is releasing two different series of 3" CDs. One series focuses on electric performances while another focuses on acoustic (although there is some back-and-forth between the categories). Since a CD that size can only hold less than 25 minutes worth of music, it's both a good way to get introduced to bands that you may have never heard of before, as well as a way for more well-known bands (upcoming artists in the series include Howie Gelb and Calexico and have included Songs: Ohia) to release some work on the side and have some fun with things.

As it turns out, I'd never heard of the Czars before this release, but as is probably the goal of the disc (besides the obvious of creating some good music), the band has piqued my future interest in them with their 4 track, 17 minute contribution to the series. Created as music for an independent (and possibly never even made) film, the four songs are not only very good, but the group manages to pull off several different sounds in a short time, making me wonder just how many tricks they have up their sleeve.

The disc opens up with an almost four minute instrumental track entitled "Interlude," and while it doesn't break a lot of new ground musically, it's a very nice intro and with twinkling piano playing off shimmering guitars, it sounds like something that the Rachels might have created. From there, the group goes into "Drug," and it might just be one of the best sad, slow songs I've heard this year. It's fairly simple with only an acoustic guitar and two-part vocals, but the lyrics cut straight through and drag you down with them.

Changing things up again, the group pulls off sort of a New Orleans swaggering rock number with hazy blasts of guitar matched up against horns and piano on "Accident" before they close out the short release with the quiet but pretty "Lullaby 6000." In just about 20 minutes, the group has created a nice variety of music (and the vocals of John William Grant work in every situation as well) and definitely has me wondering what they'll do next. An excellent little release, and one that makes you wish it were longer.

Rating: 8