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AOTW for this week is probably the heaviest record yet in the series, and I don’t mean instrumentally heavy. Control by Pedro The Lion is a concept album about the pit of American materialism interwoven with the lack of moral fiber in American social and family life. Yeah… heavy. The lyrical content of Control is easily the most artistically deep, dark, controversial, poignant, and powerful of any record that I own. All of these things exist simultaneously in the text of the album, which is itself impressive… but then the music comes in and interprets the message so incredibly spot-on that the record catapults from impressive to utterly brilliant.
The only consistent band member in now defunked Pedro The Lion was David Bazan. Control was the band’s 3rd of four official releases. Aside from some auxiliary instrumentation from friend Casey Fourbert, the record is basically just a Bazan solo album: he wrote the songs, sang, played guitar, played bass, played drums, and even played some keys. The sonic vibe of the record is very indie rock, but without too much of the standard 8th note guitar strum. Avoiding stereotypical indie rock guitar playing is one of Bazan’s strengths in my opinion, although the overall indie vibe remains. In fact, Control is probably the only Bazan album that could be fairly called a “rock” record at all – the other Pedro records are much calmer and more acoustic-driven. Control is definitely the loudest and most aggressive record thus far from Bazan, but don’t misunderstand me… this album definitely contains the simplest and most raw instrumental performances of any AOTW feature. As I mentioned above, the real shining point of the playing is the way it so perfectly translates the lyric. A concept album through and through.
Despite its simplicity, I do listen to this record for inspiration in my own playing from time to time. Bazan’s drumming has a great sloppy-but-grooving feeling to it, and his ideas for patterns/fills are creative and appropriate. I particularly love his snare tone, and the way the compression breathes on his crash-ride during the more rocking moments.
I listened to Control last week for the first time in a couple years, and I was reminded how much I love it. In fact, I’d probably put this album in my top-20 favs of all time. You can listen to the record here, and you can check out David Bazan’s current happenings here.