Release Date: Nov 11, 2016
Record label: Thrill Jockey
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Rock, Experimental Rock
Thalia Zedek is having a good year. Her own band’s release Eve from this summer was stunning. That album’s songs worked their way patiently through dark places, fighting for release. Zedek sang with maturity, resisting a downward spiral while holding no illusions, and she and her band played with a control that knew when to let go.
The Boston-based trio known as E consists of guitarist Thalia Zedek (Come, Uzi, Live Skull), guitarist Jason Sidney Sanford (Neptune), and drummer Gavin McCarthy (Karate), all veterans of various indie, noise rock, and experimental music scenes. Their work together is sharp, tight, and tense, with weary, intimate vocals over minimalist yet angular arrangements. As part of Neptune, Sanford is known for constructing homemade instruments out of scrap metal and other found objects.
Representing three generations of the Boston underground music scene, E brings together Thalia Zedek from Uzi and Come on guitar and vocals, Karate's Gavin McCarthy on drums and Jason Sanford of Neptune on additional guitar and vocals. Although Zedek and Sanford combine their noise rock credentials with McCarthy's precision-sharp drumming, much of the trio's debut self-titled album comes off comfortable and familiar sounding, which simultaneously works in and against the trio's favour. Over the album's 10 tracks and 35-minute runtime, E seem more like a musical experiment than a fully realized group, as Zedek and Sanford's scratched and hammered guitars explore far more interesting ideas and cover much more artistic ground than their oft-uninspired vocals melodies do.
I don’t know about you, but when I heard that Thalia Zedek had formed a band with guys from Karate and Neptune, the resultant titanic catharsis is not the kind of fruit that I expected such a collaboration to bear. Then again, I am not sure what I expected. You might think, we will get the rustic slowcore/angular angst dichotomy of Gavin McCarthy’s Karate, or the proto noise punk melees of Jason Sanford’s Neptune; hell, even Sanford’s own avant garde feedback machinations.
Although being part-promoted as a ‘return-to-noise’ vehicle for Thalia Zedek, after her more rustically-inclined solo wares of the last 15 or so years, the search engine-unfriendly E actually operate much more as a three-headed democratic beast. With Zedek sharing her vocal and six-string-slinging duties with Jason Sanford (Neptune) and marshalled from the rear by occasionally-singing-drummer Gavin McCarthy (Karate), the Boston-based trio is another super-group of a kind – but satisfyingly not an obvious or ego-driven one. Following on from a tremendous limited-edition debut 7” put out in 2014 – which featured Alec Tisdale warming-up the drum stool for McCarthy – this inaugural LP for Thrill Jockey more extensively sets out E’s mercurial manifesto.
E — E (Thrill Jockey)If you’re thinking of E as Thalia Zedek’s second release this year, you’re one-third right. The band E is a trio of strong personalities who each make their mark on this recorded debut. Zedek (of Come, Live Skull Uzi and some very fine solo records) steps up in her trademark weathered yowl and lithe guitar lines, but Jason Sanford (from Neptune) is as least as much a factor, kicking in abstract geometrics of altered guitar and feverish rants.
It’s always comforting to know that certain stylistic bents of rock never go out of style. That’s usually because someone puts a new spin on an old formula. That’s arguably the case with E, the self-titled debut album from Neptune’s Jason Sanford, Karate’s Gavin McCarthy, and indie rock legend Thalia Zedek (Come, Live Skull, solo). Burning with the rock energy of the classic power trio, Zedek, Sanford and McCarthy apply it to song structures influenced equally by fractured postpunk and dissonant post-rock, shying away from neither melody nor good old-fashioned noise.