Record Review

Phases and Stages


York Blvd. (Vapor)

On July 23, Richie Lee, vocalist and bassist of L.A.'s Acetone, committed suicide. In a decade of style over substance, Lee and Acetone were the good guys who never got their due -- they were all substance: slow-burning harmonies and a gentle twang, with so much fresh, clean air for the music to breathe. With York Blvd., their second release on Neil Young's Vapor imprint, Acetone marks their most up-tempo effort since their accomplished 1994 debut Cindy, delivering another rock-solid batch of songs delivered at a typical easygoing pace. "Wonderful World" finds them at their most accessible, Lee and guitarist Mark Lightcap's subtle Beach Boys-like harmonies riding atop the bassist's steady line, with the occasional power chord and feedbacky embellishment. Acetone's brand of slow, twanged-out bliss is most effective on "19" and "One Drop." Call it post-surf: warm, pastoral music so laid back it creeps up on you with its Gram Parsons twang and sends the reverb-soaked warm 'n' fuzzies creeping through your bloodstream. "Vibrato" exudes the cool sensuality of Doug Sahm's "Song of Everything," and Lee's suicide renders opener "Things Are Gonna Be Alright" all the more poignant. Acetone was scheduled for this year's SXSW until they pulled out at the last minute. At the time, it was a disappointment. Now, it's a tragedy. The consolation is that Acetone left behind albums such as this.

*** .5

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