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My first listen to this left me with the notion that this
is a guitarist who enjoys playing guitar. Really, I bet
that’s sort of the be-all end-all for Ava Mendoza. I
think others develop mastery and ease, but trade that
secret joy away. Ava is in tune with Nels Cline where
something as simple as a rattling reverb string scratch
(used to good effect early in “Jake’s Song”) is as much
a blast as the sonic snaking solo that follows it.
Arpeggios and all. Or on “First Time Shapeshifter” which
seems like a spazzed out Peter Gunn take at heart, you
can hear her rocking in a first band kinda way, but it
sets up some screaming playing where the riff almost
vanishes beneath it all (and effects glide and collide
like ol’ Nels as wells). You want the sour and simple
glee of your first bluesy jam, go “Shadowtrapping” which
has that rough broken bottle sliding of open chords but
plenty of backwards cycling. As shoes are to the Sex in
the City, so are effect pedals to Guitar in the City.
Nick Tamburro’s most notable moment comes in the Fake
Funeral Song, while Mendoza fires up a searing searchlight.
Way too short a piece, that launches into part II of the
Penumbra suite, which is the best thing out of the
ongoing heavy metal revival I’ve heard so far by far.
She’s popping up on various KFJC releases as of late,
but this Weird Forest outing is a fine calling card.
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