Citay Review For The Quietus [Extended Director’s Cut]
March 7, 2010, 1:40 pm
Filed under: Album Reviews | Tags: ,


As is true of any impressively authentic exercise in revivalism, be it or millennial post-punk or Electroclash , it’s all about escape for the artist. The more bountiful the music is of period detail the more powerful the time machine, and all the closer the revivalist is to transporting to romanticised times, where they can at last claim the experience denied to them by the inconvenience of being born too late. To paraphrase Citay’s triumphant cover of Galaxie 500’s ‘Tugboat’ “There’s a place I’d like to be/ There’s a place Id be happy”.

San Francisco’s burgeoning ‘New Psyche’ craze is bracketed on one side by cult secret Sleepy Sun and on the other: Erza Feinburg and his band of merry retrophiles – the fantastical jam band Citay. If it’s Wooden Shjips’ more modern, Krautrock-informed drone that’s mugging the scene’s press, its Sleepy Sun and Citay who betoken the sub-culture’s guiding philosophy; the latmotif being straight pastiche.

That said, Feinburg is loathed to let the demands of verisimilitude get in the way of a good time. The ethos might be pure but the music is often corrupted by anachronistic outlandishness. If they’re a harsher and immeasurably more transporting prospect, Sleepy Sun can be likened to Citay in their penchant for excess. Contrastingly though, while last year’s Sleepy Sun debut Embrace sequestered barbaric Sabbath riffage, Citay prefer to colour their soft-edged naturalism with flashy poodle-rock, if the mood takes them like on opener ‘Careful With That Hat’. The guitar heroics are conspicuous, sticking out like David Lee Roth at a Fugazi gig on ‘Fortunate Sun’ and the frankly preposterous ‘Hunter’, which disturbs your campfire slumber with a cameo from Eddie “Fingers” Ojeda. The most tasteless moment on the album, the title track sounds like some horrible British pop-metal abomination we thankfully can’t recall the name of; the type of song Jeremy Clarkson would patronizes his wife to.

When they do hold fast to a traditional psyche-rock style, though, they mix and match their way through the era with impunity. After attempting the naïve optimism synonymous with the folksy likes of The Mammas and Pappas,  they ease into extended electric noodling directly influenced by the relatively more confrontational Grateful Dead, while ‘Fortunate Son’ channels Zappa’s acid-baked chronicles of Freak culture and ‘Secret Breakfast’ toys with Sgt. Pepper-esque eastern stylings There are also shades of ‘The Pipers’ period Pink Floyd and the point at which psychedelia began to merge with the avant-garde, begetting Prog, manifested here in frostings of abstract synths.

The aforementioned instrumental ‘Secret Breakfast’ is your archetypal hippy reverie. It’s their most retro moment and about as psychedelic as Dream Together gets, making it their keynote track. Which poses the question: is this the most effectually mind-blowing your garden-variety psyche-rock can hope to be now? It almost seems grounded, numerical and most of all dowdy next to say Merriweather Post Pavilion and its bizarrely indeterminate post-techno fantasia. In fact, this type of bucolic day-dream was theoretically outmoded with the arrival of Wire’s 1978 opus Chairs Missing: post-punk’s first psychedelic album, which exchanged Citay’s Californian redwoods for interior landscapes, converting modern neurosis into stark, anally-retentive psychedelica, or rather the psychedelia of inner space – far more perception-altering. Hell, just listen to The Ramones’ ‘Judy Is A Punk’, with its amphetamine-fuelled lucidity, and duly await your epiphany.

Nevertheless, album highlight ‘Mirror Kisses’, with its flower-in-the-gun-barrel type sentiment and listless harmonies is a soothing elixir, sculpted with a monistic serenity. It’s that type of nourishing pre-punk entity that proposes you reassess your punk ideals. Just maybe all that nihilism was merely another form of naivety – adolescent, misguided, futile even. Maybe not.  After ‘Mirror Kisses’ and sustained exposure to the Sixties, those of a certain musical disposition will feel in need of a scalding hot shower. After all, who really likes The Eagles? Well most people, but that’s not the point. People are stupid. People put three versions of ‘Don’t Stop Believing’ in the top ten simultaneously.

Give us destruction, mindless fury, dead-eyed humour and Songs about Fucking, any day. Give us alienation, self abasement, give us trepanning minimalism, three chords only, the Velvet Undergroud and morbid eroticism, give us Punk Rock. Perhaps this is where Citay have succeeded, in that when they aren’t breaking formation for unabashed self-aggrandisement, so convincing is their Sixties recreation that, like the generation that followed, we hanker for what is to come next. John Calvert

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