Review Summary: Live jams caught on tape...
This decade has been a prolific one for Yawning Man, releasing 4 records in between extensive touring. On last year’s Revolt Against Tired Noises
, we witnessed a rejuvenation, the trio sounding tighter and more focused. The chemistry between Mario Lalli, Gary Arce and Bill Stinson got better with each passing year, so the results had a similar trajectory. I didn’t expect to hear new material so soon, but here is Macedonian Lines
, a short (31 minutes) yet sweet affair, boasting all of the group’s lovely trademarks.
This batch of songs was conceived on tour, taking shape from several jams played and ultimately finished in the studio. Although less wandering than usual, we can hear some beautifully blended variations of the Yawning Man formulas. The book ending cuts are the longest, offering everything we can expect from the band. ‘Virtual Funeral’ shares a deep, speaker-piercing bass line, over which Arce plays lush arpeggios. The sweet sound gently flows like a soft breeze towards your ears. Meanwhile, ‘I Make Weird Choices’ starts like a late night ditty with chunky bass chords and echoed guitar leads. It gradually grows to a dreamy “chorus”, whereas the coda takes its cues from post rock aesthetics. The middle stretch, however, shares some interesting, shorter cuts, where the guys rely on their instant effect on the listener. The approach is similar, as the bass & drum interplay clearly drive things forward, leaving Gary to roam freely for the majority of the song. The title track unfolds a playful guitar line that transitions to a rarely heard power chord progression. The powerful notes are a welcomed addition, ‘I’m Not a Real Indian (But I Play One on TV)’ further adding some lower end guitar grooves to the record as well. The well-rounded production helps considerably, offering each instrument its place up front. ‘Bowie’s Last Breath’ & ‘Melancholy Sadie’ benefit significantly from this, as there are less to no overdubs to enhance the sonic foundation. Still, it's the smooth rhythm and Yawning Man's laid back, warm tones creating half of the lovely atmosphere. Their experience shows how easily they can craft a good tune.
Overall, Macedonian Lines
(whose title probably refers to the country’s border and the lined up refugees the band saw and passed nearby on their tour last summer - I randomly stumbled over this information online) is another very enjoyable Yawning Man LP, mainly portraying their passion for music. On the upside, the distortion levels are higher this time around, creating a more suspenseful and dense listen. Nevertheless, it could’ve been a tad longer and slightly richer in details to stand up there with their classic albums. Even so, this affair's improvised nature (close to Historical Graffiti
's origins) confirms their status as one of the most gifted bands of the genre out there. Few others possess their musical prowess and gorgeous chemistry.