Pujol, Alive At The Same Time

Pujol, Alive At The Same Time

Beneath the scruffy, raggedy-edged surface of Alive At The Same Time, the new EP from frontman/guitarist/singer Daniel Pujol’s eponymous band, there beats a steel-shiny power-pop heart. At least, that’s sure how it looks from the first two tracks on the disc, “Blue Ox” and “Butterflyknife.”

The former, for one, is scrappy, semi-distorted chunk of garage-pop that leans back towards the early late-’70s days of the Brit-pop explosion, even as it digs around in Jack White’s backyard for its scratched-up yet tuneful guitar sounds (which makes sense, considering the band’s already released a 7″ on White’s Third Man Records) and high-fives both DC drone-punks The Points and North Carolinians The Talk.

Vocally, Pujol crafts a half-snarl/half-yelp sound that recalls garage-rock bands like The Sonics and the heady, pre-elder statesman days of Paul Westerberg, and the result is head-snapping, nicely raw-sounding pop that comes roaring out of the speakers/headphones like you’ve discovered some incredible, obscure retro-rock AM station you never knew existed.

“Butterflyknife” is where things really take off, though. The track rides a droney, Silver Scooter-ish groove, midtempo but still driving, with some awesomely gorgeous melodies that Pujol buries beneath a smoky hazy of rumbling guitar noise and stomp-box fuzz. Scrape off some of that grime, though, and what peeks through from underneath is practically a Guided By Voices song, with a ridiculously catchy refrain Bob Pollard would probably be all too happy to lift, which paints a surprisingly intimate portrait of disaffected youth. (I mean, seriously, any budding outcast who hasn’t either owned a butterfly knife or at least fantasized about owning one is flat-out fucking lying.)

Things shift a little with the other half of the EP, turning down for the busy, rambling almost-blues of “Keeper of Atlantis,” where Pujol keeps building these sneaky little chiming, chirping riffs that dodge in and out of the “main” sound of the song so quick you’re not sure if they happened or not. This is where an odd resemblance to Surfer Blood hits me, too, at least in both band’s noisy-yet-pretty esthetic and gentle overlayer of fuzz on top of every damn thing.

Even that fades, though, with final track “Dark Haired Suitor,” which grabs hold of a weirdly familiar (something by a Spector girl-group, maybe?) back-and-forth melody and refuses to let go through the course of the low-key, folky pop tune. If anything, it’s reminiscent of a less-morose The Dutchess & the Duke, albeit with lyrics that seem to be about The Jungle Book and almost a sense of hopefulness the former band never seems to reach — by the end, you can practically hear the half-smile creeping across Pujol’s face as he sings.

[Pujol is playing 12/14/10 at Fitzgerald’s, along with Turbo Fruits, The Mahas, & The Cutters.]

Review by . Review posted Tuesday, December 14th, 2010. Filed under Features, Reviews.

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One Response to “Pujol, Alive At The Same Time

  1. Larisa Mar on February 6th, 2011 at 6:16 pm

    y todo lo mejor

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