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[2011 in Review: Cinnamon Aluminum, ‘Holdin’ It Up’]

Cinnamon Aluminum, 'Holdin' It Up' (Level 4 Activated)

 

Oscillating between a bourbon-drenched bar crawl to a psychedelic confection, the songs on Cinnamon Aluminum’s EP Holdin’ It Up–the follow-up to 2010’s crazy-as-hell Mad Monty in the 8th Dimension of Nine–are delivered in a relaxed manner that belies the complexity behind their composition.

The complexity is easy to account for considering that the members of the band, all multi-instrumentalists, are also involved in active solo pursuits. Zach Acard mans the psycho-electronic Kid on Purpose, while Chris Svoboda chases similar sounds as Kristachuwan, and frontman Mike Schroeder does his thing under the Milk Soda guise. All three projects, along with their joint Cinnamon Aluminum venture, are under the banner of Buffalo’s Level 4 Activated label.

Holdin’ It Up begins with the title track, a refreshing, energetic David Essex-sounding anthem that even includes some unexpected neighborhood boasting with Schoreder growling, “This is where I come from.” The second track, “Who Told You You Could Do Dat?” finds the guys venturing into Tom Waits territory with Schroeder doing a fairly convincing impression of the iconic singer.

The versatility of these musicians, however, is perhaps best demonstrated with “Upon My Horsh.”  The song begins with a stuttering digital intro that then breaks down brilliantly into an Asian-influenced string rhythm, followed by a subtle chant that builds up to a shimmery electro-pop hook. In general, guitars and synth-pads play to different emotional tones on the EP, at times wistful, and at other times defiant and bold, all the while bringing in layers of what sound like mechanical whirrs and cosmic-themed samples. On top of it all is Schroeder’s woozy and raw lead vocals that often contrast with the rich, velvety vibe of horn-accented tracks.

Cinnamon Aluminum’s claim that this EP was designed to hold us over until their next LP, We Ate the Wrong Crab Spirit, comes out in 2012. Fair to say it does that and more.

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Review by Allison LS

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