The dub of the appropriately titled album opener “Holy Dub” opens up Blake/e/e/e’s Border Radio. While it is not necessarily a harbinger of things to come, it does speak to the wide open frontiers that lay ahead of the listener. Border Radio reminds me of a band like Califone and their unique brand of songwriting. Both Califone and Blake/e/e/e are centered around folk but extensively explore the experimental side of the genre. Both groups hail from Chicago as well.
After arguably the album’s two most accessible tracks, “New Millenium’s Lack Of Self Explanation” and “The Great Rescue Episode,” the band sets off on a great exploration. Touching on another Chicago musician, “Narrow Zone” sounds like some of Tim Kinsella’s more off-the-wall material. The abrasive “Time Machine” is what I would describe as a misstep. But even a misstep brings out the charm of Blake/e/e/e. At every point of Border Radio, the band shows a willingness to use their entire sonic space. “The Thing’s Hollow” sees Marcella Riccardi taking over on vocals for the first time. Recalling the grace and power of PJ Harvey, the song rumbles below the surface before coming to an appropriate end. “Holy Yes To The Sunny Days” majestically recalls Sub Pop’s Holopaw with its banjo and understated beauty. The 10 minute “Dub-Human-Ism” is next and it is almost hypnotic in its other-worldly approach. Album closer “Saint Lawrence Tears” sees Riccardi making another vocal appearance. Once again, it is a highlight as her voice floats over a lone banjo. The song is a powerful statement that leads the album to a timely finish. The production of Settlefish guitarist Bruno Germano should be noted as he always allows the band’s unmistakable personality to breathe through.
In essence, Border Radio is a telling album title. Blake/e/e/e take the listener on a vivid and diverse musical journey. The band walks the tightrope of being eclectic but hardly ever to the detriment of their songs. Through fields of indie, folk and psychedelic rock, Blake/e/e/e delve into the heart and soul of experimental songcraft. Afterall, this is not radio, it’s Border Radio.
RIYL: Holopaw, Sparklehorse, Califone
New Millenium’s Lack Of Self Explanation
The Great Rescue Episode