Reeves Gabrels

May 18, 2005

Reeves Gabrels walks the line between song structure and wiggy sonics like no one else. His tunes on Rockonica have familiar verse/chorus construction (and are often maddeningly catchy), and his riffs and solos typically possess the contours that define classic rock. But bubbling and roiling under and around this foundation are layers of eerie, broken sounds and oddball textures. And Gabrels isn’t shy about juxtaposing genres. For example, “Underneath” ends with a trippy mélange of Wheels of Fire-era Clapton licks, acoustic Delta blues riffs, and fluttering, guitar-generated helicopter sounds. The album careens from jangly acoustic picking to brutally distorted riffage, and includes enough insane sustain and howling harmonics—courtesy of Gabrels’ Sustainer-equipped signature-model Fernandes—to satisfy diehard guitar geeks. Anyone seeking the predictable, manicured shred served up by some of Gabrels’ label mates won’t find it in the edgy, often-ominous Rockonica. But if you’re drawn to bold, unexpected colors—and the notion that the guitar is a fabulous tone-generator, rather than a sharp tool for delivering speedy scale passages—you’ll dig this journey into Gabrels’ seething psyche. In “Continue,” he sings, “Let me bend your ear and your mind a little too.” No kidding. Favored Nations. —Andy Ellis

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