August 24, 2010 - Friction
With Bars Of Gold, ex-Bear Vs Shark members Marc Paffi (vocals) and Brandon Moss (drums) abandon post-hardcore for mostly cloudy indie rock with shades of folk. By now, this genre jump is familiar. Anthony Green did it through solo album Avalon, Rx Bandits' Matt Embree via his Love You Moon project and Thrice made the move without even changing their name. BOG's debut Of Gold is not a complete exercise in jumping the Shark; familiar touchstones of Moss and Paffi's previous outfit remain intact, albeit in new contexts provided by Ben Audette (guitar), Scotty Iulianelli (guitar/vocals) and Nick Jones (bass) of noise outfit Wildcatting. Banjos and overdriven Casio keyboards craft the prickly melodies usually woven by guitar strings.Â Paffi's voice box explores the gray area between the liver-damaged growl of Tom Waits and protest chants of Against Me!'s Tom Gabel. Schizophrenic structures turn "Heaven Has A Heater" and other would-be pop songs into bite-sized epics, and Moss's fondness for increased tempos behind his drums gives lightness to grandiose statements like "The Hustle." The former is a Gaslight Anthem-esque carpe-diem anthem, the latter a back-country dirge conjuring drunken Modest Mouse ca. 1995 covering sober Modest Mouse ca. 2004. In their strongest moments, Bars Of Gold are downright romanticâ€”"Birds" is the sort of song that makes kids want to drop out of high school and backpack around Europe for a year. Even their weakest cut, the fallaciously funky "Doctors & Lawyers," displays a sense of adventure. Of Gold is an unhinged rock record by all accounts, held loosely together with little emotional or instrumental restraint.