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CD Review (July)--Poem Rocket

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Poem Rocket invasion!

Atavistic, 2007

Formed in New York City around the core, husband-and-wife duo of Michael Peters (vocals, guitar) and Sandra Gardner (bass, vocals, keyboards), Poem Rocket has been plying its highly individual brand of electroacoustic, post-punk art pop for nearly 15 years. The band has been less active recently, as the couple opted for starting a family over the punishing grind of small-club touring, and settled in Albany, New York in 2004, where Peters teaches college English. Quality-of-life improvements aside, the slowdown has done their outfit much good on the creative front; with the band’s fourth album, the double-disc invasion!, Poem Rocket has made its definitive, most breathtaking work.

Crafted over five years and recorded in studios from Brooklyn to Baltimore, invasion! is a program of epic sweep, passing through myriad moods and textures but somehow never losing its confiding intimacy. On cuts like “Underwater” and “Cosmic Man,” Peters’s strummed acoustic guitar lays a gauzy mesh over Gardner’s keyboard blips, the pair’s voices arcing on opposite horizons and uniting for the occasional surreal couplet. Sonic reference points? Tough one, since this bunch doesn’t really sound like much else. Suffice to say, however, those who dig Radiohead, early Pink Floyd, post-Soft Bulletin Flaming Lips, Jefferson Airplane, or Tim Buckley—and aren’t adverse to a little experimental noise leavening—will feel right at home with Poem Rocket. And invasion! is an excellent place to start if you’re new to the group. www.poemrocket.com.

—Peter Aaron

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