Citay is the freak-folk brainchild of former Piano Magic member Ezra Feinberg. Named after the historically over-enunciated/sung word “city,” Feinberg’s outfit — including Fucking Champs’ Tim Green — opts for a mostly instrumental project. Lyrics do appear from time to time, but always in the hazy glow of reverb and chorus saturation.
Apparently, Feinberg’s inspiration for this project was the mysticism and pagan folk moments in early hard rock and the fact that these quiet interludes had yet to be extrapolated into a full-length album. His arrangements work surprisingly well, without the promise of bombast. He keeps the guitars sweetly-harmonized and double-tracked and adds appropriate doses of rustic sounding garnish in the form of mandolins, glockenspiel, etc. throughout, keeping a tight rein on the melodies. Where the disc stalls is when Feinberg gives into the old notion that eastern instruments automatically equals psychedelica. Synthesized or not, sitars are as tired a rock trope as a musician can muster. Citay’s best moments come on “Sticks” and “What Never Was and What Should Have Been,” where the imported sounds are kept outside the border and the home-grown folk is allowed to flourish. It’s more Heart than Led Zeppelin, and with the amount of traffic on Zeppelin’s trail of influence, it’s nice to hear reverence paid to the Wilson sisters. As abstract as it is rewarding and unexpected, Citay could act as the missing link on many a rock evolution chart. Not bad for a debut album…