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Shangri-La - EP

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Album Review

Versus' Shangri-La EP is a perfect example of just what can happen when a potentially precious concept is executed with flawless grace and subtlety. That is, what could have been a forgettable, gimmicky stopgap between full-length releases has morphed into another lovely example of why Versus should be considered among indie rock's pop pantheon. The concept: a quartet of tunes either titled "Shangri-La" or originally performed by the '60s girl group, the Shangri-Las (here represented by the third track, "Out in the Street"). The Versus original here (the first "Shangri-La" in the EP's track order) is a powerful pop/rock concoction with deep hooks and a chorus quite contagious. The rest of the EP follows suit in that there's not a cut here that doesn't sink its pop claws deep. Singer/guitarists Richard Baluyut and Fontaine Toups' voices, along with a lush guitar minimalism, evoke a marvelous collision of '70s cheese and late-'90s casual post-irony (appropriate, somehow, since two of the "Shangri-La"s are covers of tunes by ELO and the Kinks). Where sometimes Versus concoctions have had a tendency to wander amidst guitar wash and wane, this concept has kept the band focused and, furthermore, has allowed the boys and girl to indulge their sweet teeth. Lovely and just too brief.


Formed: 1992 in New York, NY

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

New York City indie rock favorites Versus evolved from the remnants of Flower, a band led by singer/guitarist Richard Baluyut. In the final months of Flower's existence, the group was joined by vocalist/guitarist Fontaine Toups, who remained with Baluyut in the short-lived Saturnine before the duo formed Versus (borrowing the name from an LP by Mission of Burma) with Baluyut's brother Ed. After playing their first shows with a lineup comprised of three guitars and a drum machine, Ed Baluyut relocated...
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Shangri-La - EP, Versus
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