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Schfvilkus: Generalization

On its new album Genrealization, Nashvillian band Schfvilkus shows off one awesome texture: a tight horn section playing sinuous, twisting melodies over roiling guitars and driving percussion. The horns dominate the first two tracks of the album, “Pleather” and “Swat,” and leave you nodding your head and wanting more. Unfortunately, those are the only two tracks the horns dominate. Klezmeresque clarinet improvisations go nowhere, as in the unfortunate trance evocation “Much Minutes.” Occasional attempts at broad multiculturalism-“Sierra del Yugo,” for example, with all the unrelated idioms the title implies-sound tame. And worst are the sequences in “Scuffle for Truffles” and “Rockdweller” in which guitarist and primary composer Christian Grainger plays uninteresting, monotonous motives with self-conscious profundity. This is undoubtedly supposed to evoke the Yiddish word “shpilkes” (“pins and needles”) that inspired the band’s name, but instead produces truly awesome tedium. Self-consciousness (and self-gratifying virtuosity) versus cool horns, in fact, seems to be this album’s unintentional primary struggle; unfortunately, the horns, and thus the listeners, do not win.

Originally Published