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Life Embarrasses Me On Planet Earth

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Album Review

The debut from San Francisco's Seventeen Evergreen is a charming blend of styles that successfully aims at avoiding simply re-creating one exact style or another — it's not eclecticism gone wild, by any means, but early reports of the band being simply "shoegaze" doesn't accurately convey what they're up to. If anything, opening track "Music Is the Wine" is something like sunny '70s AM pop harmonies backing Leonard Cohen while the spirit of the Beach Boys' Holland is invoked musically — a dog's breakfast from the sound of it but it all comes together very well. Caleb Pate is the fellow with the dry, reflective voice, sometimes melancholy but never downright lugubrious. By taking a crisp, clear approach to his singing throughout much if not all of the album, he further stands out from the crowd — there's a bit of echo here and there but nothing overwhelming, and he often calls to mind the reflective approach of singer Matt Talbott from the underrated Hum. If anything, his singing approach reflects the key to the album — focus instead of swimming in sound. Without being stark, songs like "Sazerac" keep the instrumental texturing — humming synth moans, hints of feedback — low in the mix, while the songs themselves often have short lyrics or none at all, like the concluding "Andromedan Dream of an Octoroon" or the majestic centerpiece "Grays," one of the few times where the guitar glaze fully steps to the fore. Much of the album, in keeping with the theme of the album title as well as its woods-at-nighttime cover art, suggests a state of mind that wants to gently float free and rise up, attested to further not only by the song titles "Constellation" and "Lunar One" but their almost hopeful, yearning atmospheres. As a result, when the band decides to rock out in their own gentle way on "Sufferbus," the result is almost shocking in context.


Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s

The hushed vocals and atmospheric instrumentation of Seventeen Evergreen is produced by Caleb Pate and Nephi Evans of San Francisco, CA. Originally from Tulsa, OK, Pate found little to do there and moved to Sacramento, CA, in his teens. Evans had been traveling around the country and met Pate on a rafting trip. They wound up in San Francisco and got to work as Seventeen Evergreen, the name taken from lyrics from an early King Crimson song. The duo started with a more rock-oriented sound and made...
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Life Embarrasses Me On Planet Earth, Seventeen Evergreen
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