Thursday, July 5, 2012

New Rin Tin Tiger, DaVinci

Toxic Pocketbook
* * * *
Rin Tin Tiger have their strain of jovial folk rock so nailed-down it’s easy to forget how many stylistic ventures Sean and Kevin Sullivan have attempted throughout their careers--the wine-and-chocolate emo folk of Westwood & Willow, the jokey stoner rap of SullyZ, their surprisingly brilliant 2009 Christmas album.  Though the first Rin Tin Tiger EP was a blast, Toxic Pocketbook, their second release under the moniker, is much more varied and even experimental.  “The Move Apart Parcel” and “Birdsthroat” are your platonic Rin Tin Tiger songs, all harmonicas and quirky metaphors.  But songs like “Pretty Looks” and “Weapon” possess a bitter dissonance that’s more in line with early Handshake than anything I’ve heard from the Sullivan Brothers before.  Furthermore, “Oregon Yard” and “Funeral” are essentially Westwood & Willow songs, using stripped-down folk textures to convey longing and melancholy.  Yet there’s no dichotomy on Toxic Pocketbook--everything the band tackles on the album they do well.  And Kevin Sullivan’s voice, always hopeful-sounding even during the album’s most morose moments, never lets you forget that you’re listening to a band that uses sandwich-themed pickup lines and occasionally announces live that they’re Slipknot.  If Toxic Pocketbook isn’t as fun as Rin Tin Tiger, it’s an equally strong album and a much stronger case for Rin Tin Tiger’s potential to create something truly brilliant.
“Long Way From Home”
* * * 1/2
DaVinci isn’t brilliant at rhyming or wordplay, but he’s a great storyteller, using vivid imagery and a sentimental streak to recount everyday tales of life in the ghetto.  “Long Way From Home,” his new single, is another great tale of the streets to add to his repertoire.  It’s almost a sort of teenage tragedy, with the bulk of the song concerning DaVinci and his girl embarking on an epic car chase that ends in their arrest.  The imagery is vivid and the story flows effortlessly, but it is hindered by Josh the Goon’s production, which sounds more like the standard creepy-piano horrorcore beat than the thick, claustrophobic production that made tracks like “D.R.E.A.M.” so raw and effective.

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