Ral Partha Vogelbacher Shrill Falcons

Though they flirt with many different aspects of indie rock, San Francisco’s Ral Partha Vogelbacher defy easy categorisation. Essentially an experimental rock’n’roll band enamoured with noise and unpredictable song structures, Ral Partha are the brainchild of songwriter Chadwick Bidwell. Content to make more subdued music in the past, the loss of his father some years ago prompted Bidwell to write this latest batch of songs dealing with mourning, but he pushes them forward with upbeat, propulsive musical flourishes, whose poetic manner owe much to Slint and Pavement. However, it’s really not that simple. "Swimming with the Sturgeon” follows a quaint piano figure and gentle whispering vocals for about two minutes before being submerged in building waves of distorted guitar and feedback. These instances are countered by the askew pop of "Three Gorges” and the wise-ass toss offs of "Messy Artist,” not to mention the Sonic Youth workout that is "Silver Mines.” There’s genuine sorrow in the layered arrangement of "New Happy Fawn,” as well as the improvised leanings of "Party after the Wake,” both of which suddenly erupt like something off of Spiderland. Dark with sharp edges, Shrill Falcons is at once familiar and unlike any record around. (Monotreme)