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Saturday, January 10, 2015

Lawnmower - Lawnmower II (Clean Feed, 2014) ****

By Paul Acquaro

Ah, memories ... I recall downloading Lawnmower's first album, West, from eMusic at Stef's enthusiastic recommendation. Then, I remember falling for it, becoming enthralled by the two guitars spinning ambient textures, Luthar Grey's understated drums and Jim Hobb's earthy saxophone. I also had the luck to catch a performance at the a sweltering Stone on a hot summer night a few years back.

Well, Lawnmower is back, sort of ... the line up is revised but they have not lost their natural post-rock sense of adventure. Replacing the dual guitars of Geoff Farina and Dan Littleton is violinist Kaethe Hostetter and electric bassist Winston Bramey. Fortunately, the loss of the fabulous guitar work is deftly mitigated by Hostetter and Bramey whose mix of melodic intent and pulsating bass generates its own captivating nuances and complements the inventive work of Grey and Hobbs.

Lawnmower II opens up with 'Good Beat' - and it's just that - a good beat that stretches out unhurriedly over 8 minutes. Violin and sax dance lightly around the chugging bass and drums. Hostetter offers up dark riffs and Hobbs responds in kind. The back beat on 'Space Goat' also chugs along unhurriedly -- it's 12 minutes of groove and mood, featuring wah-wah violin and fuzz bass with extended solos. Hobbs is in the foreground on 'Cartoon', where his rapidly ascending and descending lines stitches together the frenetic free playing of his companions. The aptly titled 'Walk in the Park' follows and provides a nice melodic bridge to the standout 'Tiny Wing'. Digging deep into itself, the track features the violin and bass in an introverted space jam that threatens to violently implode.

Lawnmower, the band, finds its inspiration in ambient spaces and deliberate rhythms, melodic snippets and extended probing passages. Though a new model for 2014, Lawnmower is a different machine but still comes highly recommended.


Dan said...

Huh, I never realized Geoff Farina was originally in Lawnmower. Karate is one of my favorite bands!

Now I have to check both albums out!

Antonio said...

I saw Karate live a few months before they split up. That show still remains one of my favourites.

Thanks, Paul, for this review!

Aram Bajakian said...

Love Geoff Farina and Karate. My high school band was lucky enough to play with them a few times. Also saw them open for Fugazi. Great band. Will check all this out!