Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Praise for Retribution Gospel Choir

For those who aren't aware, Retribution Gospel Choir is a group comprised of Alan Sparhawk (guitar, vocals) and Steve Garrington (bass) of slowcore legends Low. They are joined by Eric Pollard (drums, vocals) to complete their decidedly different rock and roll trio. I made a last minute decision to catch their set at Great Scott in Allston, MA on January 28, 2010 and it turned out to be quite the experience. The awesome photo featured above comes courtesy of fellow Boston blogger Brad of Bradley's Almanac.

I wasn't too familiar with the band before catching the show but I had recently heard their new single "Hide It Away" and was fully obsessed. This is one powerful live band and each member plays an integral part in the dynamics of their performance. The songs are short and sweet on record but when played live, they are blown wide apart. Long dissonant jams and psychedelic improvisation are frequently employed to lure the listener into a sonic haze. On songs like "Poor Man's Daughter", this was done with absolutely astonishing results.

Alan Sparhawk is an incredibly talented singer and guitarist who clearly pours everything he's got into the mix. He played with so much force that he actually broke a string on both of his Les Paul guitars resulting in some excessive drum and bass jamming while the change took place. This was even welcome as Steve Garrington and Eric Pollard combine to make an impressive rhythm section capable of carrying a groove on their own. Sparhawk sang some of "Kids" from their self-titled debut while changing strings before the band launched into the full thing. Pollard added some excellent harmonies to the performance which helped make songs like "Hide It Away" every bit as good live as I had hoped.

The band plays loud and noisy and turned my expectations on their head. They are touring in support of their 2010 sophomore release 2 so make sure to catch them if they are coming through your town. The video for the lead single "Hide It Away" from 2 can be found below.

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