It sucks to have to kick off this review with the fact that Fugue is breaking up at the end of the month. I guess Years will be their swan song, and it definitely sounds like one. Spacey, light, and airy, it's just as cosmic as the Chinese constellations from which it draws its song titles. Mixing post-rock, math rock and jazz, Fugue's final entry never does anything explicitly wrong, but latecomers might be better off checking out their earlier two releases, Ancient Glass and Siblings, both of which are more extroverted and attention-grabbing. With only one or two loud-'n'-heavy passages on the whole disc, the material eventually starts to limp. "Vermilion Bird of the South" and "Black Tortoise of the North" in particular need some bold statements to prop up all the interstellar travel. The third track, "White Tiger of the West," is way more effective in taking crunchy rock riffs and unpacking them into longer meditations. But there are still fantastic performances here. All Fugue's music is available as name-your-price downloads at fugue.bandcamp.com. Fugue's last show is at The Space (295 Treadwell St., Hamden) on Oct. 28, where they share the bill with Melt-Banana and Tera Melos ($14; all ages; manicproductions.org/tickets).
ECHO AND DRAKE
Indie-pop outfit Echo and Drake recruited some major names to turn Sundrenched Elsewhere into a breakout album. It paid off in spades. Recorded with the microphone wizards at Telefunken Studios, and mixed by Joseph Donovan (who won a Juno Award — the Canadian equivalent of the Grammies), Sundrenched Elsewhere is loaded with epic reverb and killer falsettos. But the 2010 Band Slam champs' most fetching characteristic is the dynamic between Alex DiCicco's hyperactive drum beats (they're sprinkled liberally with tambourine) and the band's massive, spacious guitar gestures. It's like firing amachine gun into the sky. Catch Echo and Drake Friday, Nov. 11, at the Main Pub in Manchester.
I've praised Craig Douglas and David Keith before, but up until now, it's always been separately. As a solo artist, Douglas has released gloomy electronic beatscapes under the name Omega Vague; he also dabbled in morbid humor for a while with industrial rockers Circus of Dead Squirrels. Keith has been drumming up a storm with his cover band (the Keith & Mazer Trio) and his sister's project (Mission 0). But the two joined up (along with bassist Joel Booska, who has since moved on) to mine territory that neither of them were currently covering individually. .dbk.'s debut disc features a little psych, a little shoegaze, a little alt-rock. The disc is hit-and-miss, suggesting that .dbk. will improve as they whittle down their list of stylistic influences.