SHEEN MARINA “Travel Lightly
(Very Special Recordings)

TRAVEL LIGHTLY indeed – Sheen Marina is a lithe organism, not overly burdened with the pomp or bloat of rock-and-roll excess. Lean and mean, and not just because of the assonance, Sheen Marina shreds through TRAVEL LIGHTLY, the band’s new (and blue!) tape (whose j-card is also really arty, like a totally detailed van, all fully fold-overed and junk) on Very Special Recordings, a label that knows a thing or two about shifty, active art rock. As such, Sheen Marina fits in spectacularly, drawing comparisons to Deerhoof, Mr. Bungle, the Dismemberment Plan, and, probably, Shudder to Think in some Baltimore-area co-ops. (I know a Baltimorean who was really in to STT, so there.) Guitars are strangled, drums are pummeled – a sax is bleated at some point. But see, Sheen Marina is sneaky – they write these choruses that will have you totally singing along with them, these melodies that just wriggle themselves into your brain. But just when you think you’ve got the song pegged, Sheen Marina pulls the rug and goes in a totally different direction, kind of like “Swipe” takes a page from both “Desert Search for Techno Allah” and “Do the Standing Still.” I love it – it’s pretty much the only kind of indie rock that still does it for me these days, the kind that keeps me guessing because I can never figure out what’s coming next. And don’t you just want to be surprised by the music you’re listening to? Who wants “Evenflow” over and over, generation after generation? I don’t. That’s what makes bands like Sheen Marina special – they keep taking chances, and the fact that they’re making some of the most listenable music you can think of is just icing on the cake. A blue cake, with a weird face decorated onto it. Wait a sec, that cake looks just like my van – is TRAVEL LIGHTLY permeating every facet of my life? God, I hope so.

Sheen Marina
Very Special Recordings

--Ryan Masteller