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Red Your Blues

Red Your Blues
(Pehr Records)

When listening to Picastro, I get the sort of feeling like the band has seen a lot. There's a slightly damaged quality to their music that is slightly understated and world-weary and just a little bit off from what you'd expect. The group has played shows with Cat Power, Smog, and Elliot Smith, and their sound mixes a slight touch of all those bands and maybe a bit of Dirty Three into somewhat desolate songs of loss and loneliness. Lead singer Liz Hysen's voice is a key point in each track, and her somewhat flat intonation just adds to the brooding nature of things.

The album opens up with "Winter Notes" and the title is just about as fitting as they come. Building from some quiet cello and guitar interplay, it builds ever-so-slowly with drums and gradually more volume on the guitar as Hysen adds her understated vocals and the track builds to a slight peak before dropping off again. "Fifth Wall" continues with the vaguely chilly sound, moving quietly through verse passages of cello and plucked guitar before bursting into louder choruses that heave and shudder while Hysen's vocals go from a croon to a garbled mumble.

A couple tracks on the release strip things down to an even more basic level, and both of them work quite well. On "Mine," only acoustic guitar and some slight cello provide a lovely, but quite melancholy backdrop for Hysen, while "Night Of Long Knives" mixes eerie strains of wailing cello with a subtle electric guitar riff for a woozy, uneasy instrumental. The closing two tracks on the release are some of the more developed (as well as the longest) musically, taking the best parts of their instrumentation and coaxing them into nicely progressing songs.

"The Sea Will Kill You" works it's way through well over 6 minutes and rambles like a sea shanty at times before locking in with louder percussion and electric guitar and "Dakar Relay" brings in all the instrumentation but allows each element a little time to breath. As a whole, the album definitely feels at home in this fall weather. Nothing on the album progresses at a pace much faster than languid, and while there are a couple brighter moments, the album is mostly relentlessly melancholic. If you're one of those people who gets depressed from lack of sun in the winter anyway, this could be the soundtrack to your sadness.

Rating: 7