JJ’s Crystal Palace


Helpcomputer Records, 2011


REVIEW BY: Vish Iyer


Guitaro is a band that isn’t averse to simplicity in its music. In fact, it is this trio’s wholehearted embrace of the uncomplicated that makes their sophomore effort, JJ’s Crystal Palace, such a fun album to listen to. However, the band’s fuzzy guitar-based disco melodies cannot be watered down to mere catchy pop hooks and choruses. As a matter of fact, inspite of the lack thereof, JJ’s Crystal Palace is as delightful as a pop record made for the masses.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Short and tight numbers are what make the album proud of itself, and even though some of the songs may seem abrupt (like the unexpected ending of “Hill Mountain” without the ensuing track being able to cushion its freefall), the seeming incompleteness isn’t so grave so as to be irritating.

In a twist that combines the shoegazer era with retro electropop impulses, Guitaro’s music blend marries the gushing guitars of The Jesus And Mary Chain with the glam electroclash techno of Fischerspooner. Also, the singing of Guitaro’s Mark Wiebe has similar nonchalant whispering vocal styling of these two bands.

Guitaro plays the role of a guitar-based indie band and that of a synth-crazed electronica band very aptly and straddles their various musical styles gracefully, all the while keeping up with the album’s buoyant momentum.

Jer Unrau, Heather Warkentin, and Mark Wiebe straddle the driving rhythms of techno with gracious layers of guitars on tracks like “Hill Mountain” and “Truth Hertz,” making lively techno-rock medleys out of this concoction. The hardcore synth based cuts, “Come Get Sums” and “Modulo,” are clubby, not boisterously so, and definitely not without a touch of the band’s indie reticence. On “Blastok,” “Make You,” and “Plastic Bags,” the band ditches any dominance of synth sounds and goes for a more complete guitar sound, resulting in a psychedelic, yet uneccentric space-pop.

Without turning it into a total party record, Guitaro has managed to create an indie album that’s upbeat and lively: JJ’s Crystal Palace has plenty of swagger for a record that’s unflashy and modest.

Rating: B+

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© 2011 Vish Iyer and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Helpcomputer Records, and is used for informational purposes only.