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Stars pick their top 5! This week: The Rifle

click to enlarge The Rifle: Not shooting blanks.

The Rifle: Not shooting blanks.

Describing their sound as "dreamy, creamy indie grooves," The Rifle rose from a solo bedroom recording by singer/guitarist Nelene DeGuzman, a brooding, unornamented 7-song album called Rib to Rib. The other members? "Randy [Rowland, drummer], we found via Craigslist and Kevin [Conklin, bassist] has always just been hangin' around," DeGuzman tells us.

On Rib to Rib's "Delta of Venus," DeGuzman's voice kinda resembles Billie Holiday, and her expression belies her youth. The tasteful restrained chording of her guitar reverberates back through time, like some seasoned old jazz cat. No kidding.

After Rib to Rib, The Rifle released Spill (Some Weird Sin, 2015), a phantasmagoric sun-drenched indie EP where all band members collaborated the sound. The trio is current ensconced at Midtown Island Studios doing a new album, due out in May.

The Rifle cite Built to Spill, Land of Talk, Cate Le Bon, Pavement, Of Montreal and The Drums as influences. Books and movies influence DeGuzman's lyrics, and themes include "feminism, mothers and daughters, depression and relationships," she says. Also appearing is Mothra, that giant divine moth found in Japanese science-fiction that first appeared alongside Godzilla in'64's Mothra vs. Godzilla.

As for the future, the gig-loving Rifle are road bound. "We all know what it's like to drive out of Tucson for a while, to have to take a leak in the middle of the blazing desert, to wax poetic about all that road ahead, and the shimmer of a clear blue sky in July," Conklin says. "Because nothing else seems important," DeGuzman adds, "Except dogs, maybe. Dogs are important."

Here The Rifle give up their Top 5 "perfect" albums.


1. Pavement—Brighten the Corners: "This album is perfect to me," DeGuzman says. "If I hear one song from Brighten it makes me want to hear the whole thing. It never fails to cheer me up. I never skip a song, and I never seem to get tired of it. The music is upbeat and transportive, it makes me feel all the best feelings of being a teenager. Coming back to this album always feels like a hello from an old friend."

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2. Moonface—Heartbreaking Bravery: "It's very moody and mysterious," Rowland says. "Every time I listen to it I listen to it all the way through. The album feels like a very personal experience, the lyrics are encoded in a way that leaves a lot for interpretation."
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3. Of Montreal—Lousy with Sylvianbriar: "It's just an extremely listenable album. Good for any mood," Rowland says.

Conklin: "I love the bass on that album, it's a slow groovy thump. And the vocals are so smooth." DeGuzman: "This is one of my favorite Of Montreal albums (this and Cherry Peel). The songs are so addictive. I agree with Randy, great for any mood or time of day."

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4. Beach Boys—Pet Sounds: "I've listened to this album countless times. It's always satisfying. Gorgeous and lush with harmony, eccentric ornamentation, and full-blown heartache." DeGuzman: "I used to kind of dismiss the Beach Boys a little bit, I only knew their hits, songs about surfing and cars and girls. But, Pet Sounds is really interesting and beautiful. There's so much vulnerability under the happy sounds and pretty harmonies about depression and loneliness and alienation. It's such a beautiful, sincere album."
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5. Pink Floyd—Animals: "It's kind of a relevant album right now," Rowland says, "it's all about a corrupt government weighing you down and your own will to survive. But, it's all in the form of extended free form jams."

The Rifle perform with North by North (Chicago) and Pipelights at Sky Bar, 536 N. 4th Ave. Saturday, Feb 11, 9 p.m.

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