Gently Down the Stream
Thalia Zedek has always approached her art like an alligator wrestler, sizing it up and then twisting it down to the ground. Ever since her groundbreaking and oppressively dark work with the underground legends Live Skull, Zedek and her band Come have skillfully wound their way through indie rock’s subterranean tunnels, earning critical praise around every murky bend but remaining, voluntarily or not, in the commercial shadows. That won’t change with Gently Down the Stream, the band’s fourth record. It’s a majestic blast of modern guitar throttle, as morose and gripping and passionate as music gets. Add the descriptives “intensely challenging” and “admirably uncompromising,” and you can understand why Come’s commercial breakthrough won’t be a gentle one.
Then again, it’s not like Zedek and writing partner Chris Brokaw ever cared much about breaking through anything but towering walls of tension. Their post-Stones, blues-based sound on the ebbing and flowing “Sorry Too Late,” as well as the powerfully mesmerizing “Saints Around My Neck,” slay with a take-no-prisoners guitar attack as intricate as it is tense. And “Recidivist” has the kind of enthralling, adrenaline-rush guitar sound most bands couldn’t dream of achieving. Together, Zedek and Brokaw come up with all manner of dark-hued rock, never lapsing into radio-friendly cliché, and fearless enough to look that alligator in the mouth and growl right back at him Matador Records, 625 Broadway, 12th Floor, New York, NY 10012-2319