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An Angle – We Can Breathe Under Alcohol

Billed as a concept album about Sacramento, California, An Angle’s sophomore offering is possibly the most exciting thing to occur in the Golden State’s capital city since the Bones Brigade’s Tommy Guerrero won the Sacto skate jam back in the ‘80s. It’s hard to determine if the constant references to alcohol are a nod to Sacramento’s only worthwhile pastime, or simply a poet waxing romantic about his most dear libation.


Take the disc’s first track “Green Water,” a fitting introduction to Kris Anaya’s straightforward folk sensibilities: “The music career is killing my liver/ so let’s take the train out of the town.” Between this opening, the title of the album, We Can Breathe Under Alcohol, and countless other references to distilled liquids, a pattern seems to be established.

But lest ye be fooled, the seemingly singular focus is merely a byproduct of Anaya’s dedication to keeping it real. Yes, there are sober moments, and AA-approved meanderings into the world of faith and love. Musically, the oft-somber vocals lift up thanks to precise-yet-effortless arrangements and instrumentation, which guide the listener into a world that’s neither indie-stale or larger-than-life pop. In total, these elements conspire to produce a take-it-as-you-like-it package that has made believers out of fans of Wilco and Beck (sans electro-lounge).

If not for the painful consciousness of “Born in a Bottle,” this Jeff Tweedy-esque breakdown comes dangerously close to sacrificing the first half of the album and dragging it into territory where few can relate or escape. Yet that’s the glimmer of genius in Anaya’s the-world-be-damned perspective and the success of an album that jumps in, falls down, aches, rots, crawls out of its hole and finds its way back home.

Although new light often fades as quickly as it ignites the sky, it’s safe to say that Anaya’s latest effort could someday be remembered as the beginning of yet another long, tortured and beautiful career (liver health notwithstanding).


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