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Lazy Lane

The Chills: (self-released)

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Sometimes I've heard complaints that Pittsburgh rock doesn't have a certain "sound" like Detroit or Seattle. But I think that's great, because it makes standing out from the pack of generic pop-punk, college rock and hippie-jam so much easier. Morgantown-to-'Burgh band Lazy Lane's debut CD The Chills reminds me of the revelation I had upon first discovering unexpected local dark-rock gems such as Underflowers and Lowsunday.

First coming on the scene with a 7-inch EP on Spanish label Butterfly Records (entirely ignored here), Lazy Lane play a very distinctive style drawing on both the more ethereal aspects of the goth scene and classic melancholic psychedelia a la Nico, Pink Floyd and The Doors. Vocalist Lily Lane's spectral, come-hither whisper is reminiscent of Mazzy Star's Hope Sandoval and The Cranes' Alison Shaw, while the song arrangements point to the only current U.S. band pulling off this exact aesthetic combination -- L.A.'s Babylonian Tiles. For an earlier reference, check the Bunnymen and "Dear Prudence"-period Banshees.

The aspects which goth and psych have in common are vivid, visual elements and lush, hallucinogenic effects (ingest your drug of choice and put on some Legendary Pink Dots), evidenced clearly by the CD's first three songs. Spooky lyrics to "The Girl Upstairs" and "Sleepyville Creepshow" ("we hang around / sleeping upside down / in a cavern where we can't be found") could almost be the theme to a horror marathon on the Sci-Fi Channel.

A few other songs strongly link the band to classic Led Zep and modern alterna-grunge, albeit with minor-key tinges, and Lily's voice becomes somewhat buried in the rock bombast, not having the projection of an operatic goth songstress a la Siouxsie. But near-perfect psych tune "Waking Up Buttercup," with its haunting organ and belly-dancer flute solo, and the mellow finale "Malaysian Dream Doll," which drifts away dream-like at the end like a Windy & Carl drone epic, more than make up for those mainstream shortcomings. On the slinky, Bad Seeds-y cabaret blues number "Madame Ruby," Lily (in the sky with diamonds) croons, "Come with me into my ruby dream." And you most gladly will.

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