Possum Dixon
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Possum Dixon , 6.5/10
Star Maps , 6.5/10

Possum Dixon is a Los Angeles quartet that plays melodic rock and roll and sings of the lowlife in their hometown. The melodic side comes from listening to too many Elvis Costello records, whereas the hyper-realist side comes from the L.A. background of bands like the Wall Of Voodoo. Formed in 1990, they released a string of excellent singles (Watch The Girl Destroy Me, Nerves, Pharmaceutical Itch, In Buildings) and the cassette EP Music For A One Bedroom Apartment (Surf Detective, 1991). The band showcases three skilled musicians: Robert O'Sullivan on piano, Robert Zabrecky on bass (and vocals), Chelso Chavez on guitar. Their interplay goes much forther than traditional rock counterpoint. Each instrument continuously redefines the harmony with all sorts of licks and solos.

Possum Dixon (Interscope, 1993) includes most of the cassette material and the singles.

Star Maps (Interscope, 1996) is less garagey and poppier, owing equally to Lou Reed, Stan Ridgway and instrumental music of the 1960s. Leadoff track Go West borrows the pace of the Velvet Underground's White Light White Heat with a sardonic musichall demeanor. Artificial Sunlight is its frantic brother.
The exhilarating Crashing Your Planet sounds like Velvet's imitators Modern Lovers doing an Indian pow-wow. Skid Marks is basically the punk-rock version of the above.
General Electric pivots on a ghostly voodoobilly that accelerates in a crescendo, dragging garage-rock organ lines and frantic country-style guitar picking into a mad square dance, while the refrain acquires Clash proportions.
But these tracks turn out to be the exceptions. The Possum Dixon are shedding their rawness. What truly shines is the playing, made of a multitude of nuances. The bouncy power-pop of In Her Disco is propelled by inventive and percussive guitar lines. In Radio Comets keyboards, guitar and drums pen an atmosphere made of quotes from noir, surf and sci-fi soundtracks. Keyboards dominate the neurotic feeling of Party Tonight. The slightly more upbeat melodrama of Emergency's About To End is stretched like a rubber band by pulsing bass and guitar until a swirl of keyboards lifts the refrain. Personal oscillates between jazz, Christmas carols and spy music. Guitar and keyboards continuously drop quotes of Sixties music, whether it's a cowboy twang or a surf riff or a garage organ line. Despite the eclectic and broad range of arrangements, the band concocts a superbly cohesive and consistently entertaining album.

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