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ALBUM REVIEW: "Elevation" 



Teen Sound Records

It wouldn't be fair to my ever-changing musical moods if I were to have a favorite band, but Rochester's St. Phillip's Escalator comes damn close. The trio was barely out of its teens when it released "Endless Trip." This excellent debut pleased as much as it confounded: where were teenagers getting hold of this kind of heavy? It was a solid sendup to the heavier, bluesier, psychedelic sounds of the late 1960's. It called to mind the sonic hugeness of Blue Cheer, the hooky-pop of The Kinks with the chaos and vulgarity of The MC-5; it was friggin' perfect.

Now, almost 10 years later, the boys are back with "Elevation": a slightly more focused, yet equally heavy, six-song kick in the head. There's just a touch more applied sophistication that comes out in layers. The songs are expertly crafted and were clearly honed before being given the SPE treatment. The brutality of Zachary Koch's drums, the monstrous tone of the Ryan Moore's guitar (just dig the voluptuous six-string work on "South 4th Street Blues"), the nimble thunder of Noel Wilfeard's bass, topped off by Moore's snotty ra-cha-cha bleat: all burn hot and urgent. The record raves period correct but detours just before it gets clichéd. This ain't no throwback, jack. All six tracks of this too-short platter were produced by the band; no outsiders telling it what to do. "Elevation" is a solid blast. If this were 1966, St. Phillip's Escalator would have been one of the bands ripped off by the Stones.

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