The Upshot: Igniting firestorms of 1970s-worth ax-ery against sleek cinematic surfaces, with every note spotlessly clean and clear.
BY JENNIFER KELLY
Don’t tell Aaron Olson that guitar solos are dead. His second album in front of L.A. Takedown, a seven-person band based out of Los Angeles, ignites big firestorms of 1970s-worth ax-ery against sleek cinematic surfaces, every note spotlessly clean and clear. The screaming solo that arcs through “Blue Skies (On Mars)” is one for the lighters, both grand and grandiose, beautiful and a little embarrassing in its excess. If you ever harbored an affection for, say, Satriani’s “Surfing with the Alien” or on the higher end, John McLaughlin, this will hit that sweet spot, and let’s face it, guitar hero albums are not exactly thick on the ground lately.
Olson does some work in film, and perhaps that’s why the album feels like a soundtrack to a big summer blockbuster. Driving rhythms imply extravagantly violent car chases (“Bad Night at Black’s Beach”), and downtempo smolders that might accompany the sex sequences (“L.A. Blue”). Big blasts of synthesizer punctuate machine-drilled drum cadences to build up tension. And the sheer polished beauty of many of these tracks evokes the manicured vistas of popular film – California beaches at magic hour.
“Night Skiing” is the best track on II, but just by a nose. Its expansive krautrock-ish groove has a little more friction to it than you’ll find in the other tracks, a tiny bit less of the idealized gloss. Here, too, the guitar solo winds and howls and bays, a trapped animal rearing up against gleaming walls of synth. L.A. Takedown often errs on the side of too much perfection, but here, a little messed up, it soars.
DOWNLOAD: “Night Skiing”