Katamine Lag

Gloomier than Elliott Smith? Hardly sounds possible, but Israeli musician Assaf Tager, former guitar player for Mr. Misery himself, pulls it off. A talented singer-songwriter in his own right, Tager, along with Uri Frost on guitar, Zoe Polanski on bass and Casio, and Haggai Fershtman on drums, is beginning to make a name for himself, as evidenced by a recent opening gig for Devendra Banhart and an imminent iTunes/Coca-Cola ad campaign. Lag, Katamine’s second disc, has an overall meditative tone, with darkly beautiful and intricately picked guitar numbers that will strike a painfully familiar note with Elliott Smith fans. The album’s brutal cover art, however, with its bruised, hollow-eyed faces, tells the true story of this disc, which melts into aural strangeness towards the middle. Later songs are weighted down by effects-laden instrumentation — the droning, hissing and whining creates an eerie and unsettling mood. Lag’s brooding atmosphere has an apocalyptic undercurrent that bodes of ill omens and danger in the water. (Tinstar Creative Pool)