The City Above Year of the Spider

Year of the Spider has all the right ingredients to sound like an important album: lo-fi production, a timely '90s revivalist sound and sophisticated guitar accents. But, somehow, the third LP from the City Above comes off a bit empty. That's not to say that the Ottawa, ON quintet aren't without their merits; vocalist Ross Henwood's cross-country howl cunningly mimics Yo La Tengo's Ira Kaplan and Built to Spill's Doug Martsch. But songs like "Hawaii" and "Skid Union" come off all-verse and no chorus as the band focus too much energy on the parts while ignoring the whole. However, the stutter-step vocals and stammering guitar of "Lonesome Railroad Echo" and the ethereal glide of the title track show them moving in the right direction. Year of the Spider positions the City Above as a band afraid to inject any personality into their songs. They have the chops, now they just need the pork. (Independent)