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Comets On Fire play a noisy & psychedelic, form of 70's inspired rock. If you imagine Cream playing with two intertwining guitars and the odd wash of keyboards and noise effects you'd pretty much nail what Comets sound like. It's an intriguing sound and one that's quite addictive to these ears at the moment. It's a sound that's bluesy & layered and takes quite a number of listens to appreciate, like any good record. The hooks and melodies aren't apparrent at first but they do show themselves after some time spent with Avatar.
Dogwood Rust has a very skittish, jazzy rhythm but it's addictive and you know you want more when the chorus kicks in. Jaybird begins in more or less the same vein but is a lot more melodic, utilising the two guitarsists extremely well. Comets have a really solid rhythm section over which evertything else is layered. The vocals aren't as up front as you'd think and everything has it's own oppertunity to shine through the mix.
Lucifer's Memory is probably the highlight, even though it's, in essence, a cheesy ballad. It just harkens back to the vibe of bands like Cream, Pink Floyd, & Led Zeppelin so much it can't not be apprectated. The melodies, guitar, piano and the singer's voice are all so good the cheesiness involved is completely excused.
The Swallow's Eye and Sour Smoke are two pretty lengthy, satisfying psychedelic jam tracks, in fact every track bar Holy Teeth clock in at over 6mins. Holy Teeth is the low point for me. It's a brash, shouty rocker and I'm definitely not adverse to brash, shouty rockers but it doesn't seem to fit within the album at all and disrupts the flow somewhat.Read more ›
I could have denied this album a 5th star cos of this, but Avatar is far too good for me to do that. Dogwood Rust, the 1st track has a good guitar solo, and I just love the the way the next song ( Jaybird) builds up into a furious guitar solo in the middle of the song. Lucifers Memory is what I would call a psychedelic rock ballad (yes, there is such a thing). This guitar/piano led 70s sounding tune is one of those pieces that remain unheard to a lot of music fans, A pity really, as this is one of the best songs on Avatar. Can't believe that's the same band that recorded heavier tracks like Dogwood Rust and Holy Teeth. Holy Teeth is more up to date and this is where the band show their "metal" side. A strong Monster Magnet influence is present on that track.
For the best song on the album. Well it has to be Sour Smoke.
This guitar/electric piano based instrumental piece is a classic and would be well suited for use as backing music for, say, sporting highlights for example. As far as I know, this song has never been used for any kind of advertising. It is one of the greatest instrumentals I have ever heard and it's repetitive themes help keep it memorable.There are so many bands out there that deserve greater recognition than they have, and Comets On Fire are one of them.
What we have here is a band plating loud fast-paced rock music a la Cream. I've come across Comets on Fire referred to as an "indie noise rock band". I get the noise bit, but this is unlike any indie band I've heard around at the moment. Whereas most indie groups seem to look to pop/rock bands of the 60s/70s as their inspiration, this is definitely inspired by early 70s rock and as a rock record revisiting the 70s this is truly in a class of its own.
The album only has seven tracks and all bar "Holy Teeth" clock in at longer than six minutes. The first four tracks are more straightforward rock numbers, but all good. The highlight comes for me in track six, "Sour Smoke" an 8 minute plus number that IS more of what you might call indie music than the rest. It sounds like they are jamming in the studio with a riff they've just stumbled across, it's a throbbing beat accompanied by excellent keyboards. The final track seems to be an attempt to construct a classic rock standard and it is truly awesome. This shows to me that this band may really have something big just around the corner.
This is a great album that seems to have gone almost completely unnoticed. Completely below the radar for me. Brilliant stuff and I'll be listening to more of this band. (9/10)
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Comets on Fire are dense. Blue Cathedral was a punishing wall of noise. Listening to it I felt like one of those explorers in the black and white Tarzan movies equipped with a machete inching through the foliage. However, once you carved out your own path the album rewarded you tenfold. Comets are unapologetically classic rock, but instead of just breaking out the old Hendrix and painting by numbers they added some proto-punk and an echoplex.
Some thought Blue Cathedral was more attitude than it was songwriting, and to them Avatar is the perfect rebuttal. Here the Faces riffs and Robert Plant vocals are slowed down to further reveal the songs to the point where someone who hated Blue Cathedral might actually like Avatar. Don't worry, there's still use of the echoplex, and the songs are drawn from six to eight minutes in length (with one exception), but Comets have traded in some of their feral energy for a more dynamic sound.
Benefiting the most from the new dynamics is the bad acid sounding "Lucifer's Memory," a song that sounds like a flower wilting. There's a certain cadence that plugs along with the chugging vocals pushing the song towards its seven minute mark. It has quickly become my favorite new song of this year.
While there are still some rockers, such as the opener "Dogwood Rust" which sounds as if its beginning should be found somewhere before you pressed play, just as the closer sounds as if it ends before the song has stopped, even these rockers sound less brutal than their predecessors. Only "Holy Teeth" has the same long-haired head banging attitude as Blue Cathedral, and it only lasts three minutes (only a minute in Comets on Fire time).
At almost nine-minutes "Soup Smoke" pushes the limits of pseudo-tribal beats. Instead of punishing noise Comets are pounding repetition into our heads. Just thirteen more seconds and I think I would have had a spiritual vision.
At only six minutes long the closer "Hatched Upon the Age" proves that it takes more than just length to be epic and more than just noise for a crescendo. The miracle of the album is that through all of the interplay between the instruments sometimes it's just a couple of simple repetitive piano keys to bring it all home.
Avatar is easily one of the best releases of '06. Very few bands can bring me back to that feeling I got discovering classic rock bands in middle school. But don't break out your eight tracks and dust off the old bong yet. Unlike most bands, retro is only half of the story for Comets on Fire. Comets on Fire are ultimately timeless. Try as I might, I cannot lump them with all the other seventies rockers, but their sound hardly seems contemporary. It's as if they've found some time wormhole so they can rock on across the ages. I'm there, man, I'm there.
Even as the chill mode is the path taken on "Jaybird," drummer Utrillo Kushner keeps apace with an intensely rapid flow of a be-bop scat-shot percussion groove that also remains tepid. With plenty of half-buried and squelching organ lines and a rustic overtone, it would be a topic of great debate to say that Comets on Fire veer off into an improv mode, but their free jazz approach is undeniable. The organ and keyboard elements are more audible here than they have ever been with Comets on Fire, especially with the druggy lounge blues of "Lucifer's Memory."
Being the mélange of intoxicating mind sets that it is, Avatar is like a sponge of sorts that is absorbed in a mixture of PBR pounders, potent cannabis, and Orange Sunshine LSD. The album also exhibits some of the flourishes of Six Organs of Admittance and Miller's side project Howlin' Rain. Overall, Avatar is a kaleidoscopically gritty effort that contains the sound and vision of an acid test party ethos and a belligerent dram of punk rock defiance. - Chris Pacifico
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Definitely a Bay Area-influenced band, their geographical location fits the band's 1969-71 influences. They never precisely recall-- but they continue the often-maligned and only recently re-examined and respected, striving, spirit--of the bands of this era that took the acid rock and moved it away from hippie vibes into more obsessively introverted aural and intellectual byways. That they create this music while living out in the countryside is no accident. It feels rooted, Americana for those who don't wear Stetsons but may wear boots! This is smart music, done in an organic way so that songs unfold and emerge slowly, and the pacing is not for the impatient. My four-star rating is earned since the band tends towards a bluesier foundation here than I prefer, but for others this may well be a strength this album around. Listening, I became at first disappointed in the more strictly paced song rhythms, and longed for more skronk. This album holds back rather than rushes towards release. It's rather a tease. But, the album forced me into its own march (like a Kubrick film), and I had to follow and slow down.
This may be a good place to start for those new to CoF. It's more accessible than Blue C or Field Recordings from the Sun [what a great album title], yet shows the band continues to put care and thought into this premeditated (in more ways than one?) exploration of the inner spirit as it wanders disconsolate. It's not as peppy, and much more soulful; while I prefer their second and third albums, I must admit that the continued evolution of this band towards more complex terrain bodes well for its career. I anticipate an even better fifth CD in a couple of years after more contemplation and taping from the band's rural coastal retreat.
that said, this album doesn't sound a bit like yes, it's heavier than it is proggy, dancier than it is jammy, and bluesier than it is pop.
and the singer CAN sing. what's wrong with his singing? it's not as histrionic as jon anderson's, or even greg lake. it's more akin to procal harum, but not as schticky.
this album rides the fence between ambition and masturbation perfectly, recognizing the benefit of both and distributing them evenly.
from the first notes of 'dogwood rust', the peaks and valleys come and go before you could ever get bored, and each song is played masterfully, but the production isn't pristine; instead it leaves all the cracks and leaks, something that goes against the progrock grain, yielding something undoubtedly human. great record.