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Six Eye Columbia 

A Million Six; Frowny Frown (Self-released)

Wednesday, Oct 24 2001
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With its double debut releases A Million Six and Frowny Frown, Six Eye Columbia demonstrates its grasp of the bittersweet, heart-rending potential of power-pop. As sonically delicate and emotionally resonant as a plucked high-E string, A Million Six is a carefully composed collection of layered originals, while the vinyl-only Frowny Frown offers quirkily interpreted new wave, metal, and trip hop covers. Masterminded by San Francisco singer/guitarist Josh Pollack and drummer Dan Bruno, the pair of albums proves that power-pop has survived the electronic music revolution, the horrors of commercial radio programming, and a couple of overproduced Guided by Voices albums to continue thriving as a musical format.

For A Million Six, songwriter Pollack stretches his heartached lyrics over a structure of crumbling verses, broken choruses, and eerie chords. The music is tear-swelled and emotional: On the haunting "Your Sad Eyes," Pollack breaks down, letting the instruments carry on when words can't. Pedal steeler Joe Goldmark adds ghostly strings to the album, while other players sink backup vocals, xylophone, horns, and violins into the music's dense fabric. By weaving a complex lyrical and sonic narrative of love, loss, and rebirth, Six Eye Columbia crafts a worthy addition to the 30-year legacy of Big Star and the Raspberries.

If A Million Six is a showcase of Six Eye Columbia's songwriting prowess, then Frowny Frown is a demonstration of the band members' musicianship and production skills. Artfully reworking such divergent songs as Motörhead's "Ace of Spades" and Hall and Oates' "Rich Girl," the group comes up with a playful and thick lo-fi sound that nods to the early work of Robert Pollard and Revolver-era Beatles. By again including Goldmark's countrified stringwork -- as well as psychedelic guitar, steel drum rhythms, and multitracked vocals -- the band exhibits a dynamic range that extends beyond mere mimicry. As Six Eye Columbia works its way from Black Flag to Dr. Seuss, the air fills with that electric feel so familiar to fans of power-pop: the urge to roll down the window, put the pedal to the metal, and pump your fists in the air.

About The Author

Ali Neff

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