August 15, 2006

Review: Uzeda | Stella

Uzeda -- StellaIt may be simplistic to assert that Sicilian quartet Uzeda sounds like Shellac fronted by Kim Deal yelling herself hoarse, but that doesn't make the assessment any less accurate. The similarity is undeniable, and on Stella, Uzeda's sixth record and first in eight years, it is almost predictable. That's because this record and a few earlier Uzeda sets were committed to tape via Shellac-fronter Steve Albini and his punishing 1,000 hurts-per-second production. Perhaps it is best to couch the similarity as compliment: Uzeda's strength -- the ability to create bristling grooves of cheese-grater guitar, chunky bass and inside-your-head drums, all as stark as an EKG reading, all raw-nerved energy -- is the same as Shellac's. And while Uzeda's economical music can be as harrowing as that of Mssrs. Albini, Trainer and Weston, it is more earnest and cathartic ("This Heat") and less outwardly confrontational. Stella's narratives are concerned with fears ("Time Below Zero") and personal hells ("Camillo") and eschew Shellac's irony.

As the most recent Shellac full-length was 2000's 1,000 Hurts, Uzeda's set stands at the ready to fulfill the record-buying needs of fans of heavy, slowly grinding and minimalist music. The dicey authority Wikipedia tells us that Uzeda fronter Giovanna Cacciola and guitarist Agostino Tillota served time in recent years in Don Caballero impresario/drummer extraordinaire Damon Che's Bellini project. As far as area appearances go, according to Bradley's Almanac Uzeda and Shellac are playing Martha's Vineyard's Katherine Cornell Theater Sept. 3. Both acts then play Touch And Go's 25th Anniversary Rocktacular Sept. 9. Touch And Go issues Stella Aug. 22.

You can stream Stella in its entirety here. Stream the set's closing track "Steam, Rain & Other Stuff" at this link (select "Featured Clips" at upper right).

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