Drag City CD
Given the number of solo efforts and other bands that spinoff from Philadelphia-based outfit Espers, it’s fair to say that they are the supergroup of the city’s burgeoning psych-folk scene. Espers started out as a trio with frequent guests. On their latest LP, III, they’ve grown to a quintet: Greg Weeks, Meg Baird, Helen Espvall, Otto Hauser, Brooke Sietinsons. Correspondingly, their sonic and musical reach has grown as well.
Thus, the music-making shines on “I can’t see Clear,” a ’60s-inspired pop-folk with white-hot guitar breaks offsetting amiable duet vocals. But Espers has also got a penchant for drone-heavy improvisation and Eastern-tinged percussion, exhibited on “Colony.” When the vocals enter, they add a whirling dervish of trippy harmonies.
“Another Moon Song” finds the band stretching out on an expansive jam with some impressive long-form guitar solos. There’s even a bit of pastoral-prog mysticism and atmospheric strings to be found on “Trollslända.”
While III finds Espers as elusive to pin down as ever, they prove equally impressive in each of their many guises.