The Pocket Symphonies
Reviewed by Greg Beets, Fri., June 7, 2002
The Pocket SymphoniesLeaving Is Believing Though it doesn't come equipped with many obvious pop devices, the Pocket Symphonies' debut slides right along on rough-hewn bedroom charm and still manages at points to sound like something you might've heard on a more adventurous Top 40 station back in 1972. The San Marcos quartet alternately strives for universal resonance and late-night studio rat exploration, sometimes within the same song. This approach is somewhat insular, but it's a shared insularity you might find between old friends getting together to drink beer and reminisce about the past. The lazy summer atmospherics of "Music Fades" start things off with Paul Etheridge effectively channeling the soulful, emotive vocals of Carl Wilson on the Beach Boys' early Seventies work. "River" ebbs and flows on the strength of dueling twang und fuzz guitars that meet at the bridge in mesmerizing effect. Young Heart Attack guitarist/Bubble studio impresario Chris "Frenchie" Smith takes a break from engineering to drop in on guitar here, and Fastball bassist Tony Scalzo does another impressive six-string guest spot on the Flaming Lips-textured ballad, "Waves of Sound." The one straightforward song on Leaving Is Believing is "Wonder World," a rocking ode to the venerable San Marcos roadside attraction. Taken as a whole, the album creates a unique, forward-into-the-past buzz that never sits still long enough to be tagged and bagged.