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Guillermo Sexo - Magic Lanterns (Cover Artwork)

Guillermo Sexo

Guillermo Sexo: Magic LanternsMagic Lanterns (2008)
self-released

Reviewer Rating: 2.5


Contributed by: greg0rbgreg0rb
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Allston, Massachusetts' interestingly-named Guillermo Sexo (David Bowie came in a dream to guitarist Reuben Bettsak and gave them the name) are a group who aim high, shooting for that tough combo of dissonance and melody. Unfortunately, with Magic Lanterns they fall a bit short and run a bit long. .
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Allston, Massachusetts' interestingly-named Guillermo Sexo (David Bowie came in a dream to guitarist Reuben Bettsak and gave them the name) are a group who aim high, shooting for that tough combo of dissonance and melody. Unfortunately, with Magic Lanterns they fall a bit short and run a bit long.

Musically striving for a stew of the artsy guitar-noise of Sonic Youth and the punkier lines of Fugazi yet with a penchant for shoegazey tangents, Guillermo Sexo hit their multiple marks on occasion but could stand a whole bunch of editing. This 13-track, hour-long set is full of songs around or topping the five-minute mark, and when they dial down the volume they tend to dial down the focus, wandering aimlessly. On their debut, 2006's Oh Wow, they kept things shorter, but with the shifting lineup of the band for this record they made a conscious decision to jam a bit more. That said, there is a lot to like here musically and it's vocally I'm left most disappointed.

Opener "Under Stars" gets things off to a good start, with shouted reverb-soaked vocals, At the Drive-In style angular guitar lines and bleeping keyboards, breaking only for a couple dreamy breakdowns. "Telegrams" shows the band doing what they do best, upping the tempo with a floor-tom-powered beat and fuzzy bass. They foray into a noisy outro as the song disintegrates -- in a good way -- and they don't allow it to get overlong. "Take Your Battle Axe to the Night" is Guillermo Sexo at their most Sonic Youth-y, with droney verses and more pumped up choruses with cries of "That's suicide!"

Reuben Bettsak's vocals fold into the fray nicely with his rhythmic Guy Picciotto-aping style. However, when keyboardist Noell Dorsey takes the mic, things don't click so well. She sings with an operatic vibrato-laden tone, often singing in a register high above and unconnected to the rest of the group. On "Junior World Championships" she jumps the pleasant melody up an octave for some reason and it nearly pops my eardrums. On "Leave the Mind, Arrive in Colors," the rocking-enough-but-already-long song ends with the instruments slowly dying out as Dorsey's vocals remain, repeating a melody made all the more piercing with the removal of the rest of the band. At times the effect is ghostly and could work (the pulsing "Horses of the Raging Sea (Pt. 1)" is her strongest number), but I think they need to find more select moments to utilize her style. Not to rag on her exclusively; while Bettsak's vocals fit better, his melodies tend to be more monotone and less memorably melodic.

The last two tracks, "Acrobats of Dawn" and "Apricots of Dusk," bleed together and show a direction the band should pursue. The acoustic guitar, piano plunks and shakers, Bettsak and Dorsey trading off vocals and the repetitive grooves of the later track show that when the band reels things in a bit it serves them well.

I've found that I like this album a lot better in chunks or single songs, and it's when I attempt to digest the whole thing at once that it wears me down. Guillermo Sexo are an ambitious and talented young band and have a whole lot going for them -- they just need some editing and more focus on vocals and melody. According to Bettsak in an interview, their new songs are 'shorter and more upbeat' for album #3, and that may bode well for the group.

 


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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
eazyd2 (April 13, 2009)

sexy sexy!!

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