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Of the Painted Choir: Of the Painted Choir (Self-Released) 

Of The Painted Choir's second EP is a wonderful four-song collection of late '60s would-be AM radio pop, in the swinging vein of Nancy Sinatra, and the layered, yearning productions of Scott Walker and David Axelrod.

Singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist/producer Frederick Huang, formally a behind the scenes man for local band Mostly Bears, creates symphonic arrangements that frame his high-register croon with elements of non-rock pop, lounge jazz, and '60s cowboy fantasies. Rounding out the quartet is former Bled member Darren Simoes, keyboardist Phillip Hanna (formerly of Phoenix's Kinch), and bassist Wayne Jones (from the band Tugboat, also from Phoenix).

It's been said that taste is the enemy of rock and roll music, but in the non-rock world, good taste and restraint can work wonders, as they do here. Opener "Lula, My Baby" sets the tone for the EP with its up-tempo beat, and soaring vocals. Huang stretches his syllables until the lyrics are nearly incomprehensible; the sound of his haunting tenor delivers the message until he clearly declares "she can't go home" in the song's refrain.

"A Spanish Mountain" further uses dynamic shifts, sighing textures, and, sometimes, an abandonment of language itself, evoking the longing for an ideal world for which no words have been created.

More by Joshua Levine

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