Thursday, December 5, 2013

Mercy Choir - “His Noiseless Ball, His Boxwood Rattle" Review

2013 has been a busy year for Paul Belbusti who heads the Mercy Choir. A Connecticut Music Award nomination for "Best Other," a slew of splits and the birth of a son are some of his accomplishments this year. One would say he has his hands full. However, amidst a full year of rock and roll and learning to be a father, Mercy Choir has had the time to release a full length album which may be the final of 2013. (Although knowing Paul, he may release something before the month is over).

His Noiseless Ball, His Boxwood Rattle,” was released on November 26th by Dead Language Records on a limited run of cassette and compact disc. It is 14 songs and ticking in in just about a half hour’s time.

Starting off like an avant-garde underground 80’s New Wave song with “The First of the Final Putdowns,” it sets the tone for what will be a landmark recording by Mercy Choir. Paul sets himself apart from the rest of the Connecticut folk scene with this record. One could say he is like the “Beck of Connecticut.”

The record swings between indie rock, garage, lo-fi, and folk with some hints of punk and ambient in there. It’s across the board but not all over the place. Every song utilizes each influence perfectly. “I listened to a ton of Guided By Voices this year and the spirit of the writing and recording of this one was probably influenced by them in a way that's noticeable, at least to me,” says Paul. That influence is prominent in “Clear and Trash,” a rocking song that could make Robert Pollard drool. "Clear and Trash" makes way for the acoustic “Cage Act #4,” which sounds like the total opposite of a Guided By Voices song and sounds reminiscent to something that falls between the likes of Leonard Cohen, Conor Oberst, and George Harrison.

This solid record ends with “Apostrophe Piano.” It’s a perfect way to end a perfect record. It brings you down after a chaotic yet brilliant record that mixes emotions, spits you out, and picks you back up. If this is how 2013 is ending for Mercy Choir what will 2014 bring? I’m only assuming the surface is just being scratched.

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