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Barringtone - Bonanza Plan

  by Kimberly Bright

published: 13 / 9 / 2020

Barringtone - Bonanza Plan
Label: Onomatopeia
Format: CD


Angular art rock on excellent debut album from Barringtone which proves to be an immediate classic

Barrington’s debut release was pushed back to August from May due to the chaos that has been 2020, and now the wait is nearly over. An earlier incarnation of the band existed with Barry Cobbin, Connan Coolidge, and Boomer Opperman in the late ‘00s, and encouraging things were written about their debut single 'Snake in the Grass'. The intervening years aren’t explained in the press release, which describes Bonanza Plan as an “eclectic debut.” For anyone who likes their weird electronic pop on the avant-garde side, along the lines of Eno-era Roxy Music, Eno’s own 'Warm Jets' period, Bonanza Plan is a welcome discovery. The album’s title refers to one of those bits of business motivational speaker jargon that is easily lampooned that coincidentally sounds like “banana palm,” hence the cover art by Michaela Braun. The songs themselves, produced by Nick Howlantz, are often edgy and quirky, bringing to mind SLUG, Battles, Public Service Broadcasting, and even classic Cardiacs, but with the nervous anxiety outweighed by nature field recordings and dreamy, hallucinatory lyrics, one mentioning a unicorn ('Dreamboyz'). Coincidentally, Dreamboys was briefly the name of Peter Capaldi’s punk band in Glasgow, but without the “z”, and surely Capaldi himself would be delighted by this strange record. Songs like 'Emily Smallhands' and 'Foxes and Brimstone' seem at first as though they will be catchy, accessible indiepop but quickly take a hard left Captain Beefheart turn. Not having any idea what is going to happen next, music theory and cliches be damned, is a wonderful experience. Calculated progressive rock synth skips happily alongside math rock hooks ('Feverhead' and 'The New New'). Creative, generously well-spaced instrumental breaks leave prog behind and delve into that kind of adventurousness the Police used to occupy live when they jammed in between songs; I was frequently reminded of that point in their shows when Andy Summers expanded upon 'Regatta de Blanc' and let loose. Barringtone’s approach is similar to Zappa’s lengthy but disciplined live improvisations and absurdist humour. There is a definite sense of fearlessness swirling around these songs, and when the world gets back to normal in-person performances again I bet Barringtone will be well worth seeing live.

Track Listing:-
1 Foxes and Brimstone
2 Gold Medal Vision
3 Dream Boys
4 Into the Woods
5 The New New
6 Emily Smallhands
7 Feverhead
8 Technollipop
9 Pet Gazelles

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