June 19, 2009

Henry Gale
Other Voices

Boston, MA
Recorded and mixed by Jon Perri

Boston-based foursome Henry Gale grows on you. Their EP Other Voices makes for great driving music, especially as the long twilights of summer begin to take hold. Other Voices is atmospheric post-rock with a goofy grin on its face and not a hint of drug-induced stupor. The five songs are variations on a theme: spacey, clean guitar loops and spare, vaguely martial drums. Henry Gale’s first effort leaves you with a slightly loopy feeling, an ethereal sort of contentedness that could develop into the band’s signature sound. The band’s name would seem to be a reference to the ABC show Lost, but the original Henry Gale was Dorothy’s uncle in The Wizard of Oz, and Henry Gale’s freshman EP evokes the happy nostalgia of good times back home.

The only stumble comes in the band’s attempt to turn it up to 11 on the confused fourth track “Mouthful of Sharks.” Henry Gale’s brand of distortion does not do well under the demands of
rapid-fire rock riffs; when guitarists Alex Zaniboni and Dave Landry lay back and stick to an arpeggiated, surfy sound, they play to the strengths of their bandmates and themselves. “Mouthful of Sharks” is a confused, somewhat proggy example of poorly executed denouement that courses through at least three movements and grinds the rest of the album to a halt. Henry Gale would have done well to have made this a four-song release, because the last track, “Stay Warm,” brings the work to a enjoyable conclusion. The sensation’s something like having just eaten a home-cooked meal: contented, a little sleepy and pleasantly warm.

Other Voices offers listeners only a short glimpse of the bright spacescapes the band seems poised to explore, Henry Gale makes some very pretty music. Drummer Matt Pelaggi gives weight to a band that might otherwise fly off into space, and while bassist Jonathan Hislop gets lost in the piercing treble of the band’s guitars, he’s rock-solid at the bottom of their grooves. If you’re lucky enough to know someone who owns a convertible, this would be a great album to proffer exchange for a ride with the top down.(self-released)
-Dan Weber

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