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Eric Avery – [Album]

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Monday, 21 April 2008

It took bassist Eric Avery fourteen years to detox from Jane’s Addiction and compose himself after Deconstruction, but with Help Wanted he has returned whole, hearty and reinvigorated. As it turns out, turning down all those Jane’s reunions was the ideal course; Avery’s new solo album bears no marks of the bassist’s prior work and instead starts fresh to create his own vision.

What Avery has always maintained is his affection for such electronic acts as New Order and those elements manifest immediately in “Belly of an Insect” but, unlike those acts, he also leaves enough room to draw a little more soul into his vocals than he was ever able to do in Deconstruction. While Avery’s vocals are still often deadpan, they don’t come off as emotionally stunted anymore; as Mike Doughty used to do in Soul Coughing and Justin Warfield attempts to do in She Wants Revenge, Avery manages a menace in the contrast between his bass, the icy, echo-laden support instrumentation and his husky baritone but beneath those ominous overtones lurk the flecks of sadness and regret rather than a safe disconnection or plain indifference which is incredibly engaging. On songs like “All Remote and No Control,” “Walk Through Walls” and “Song in the Silence,” Avery attains a state of aural pathetic fallacy that’s heartbreaking in its painful state of unfeeling; he sounds as if the pain is unbearable and he might cry and by the end of “Song in the Silence” he’s won enough converts that he wouldn’t be alone if he sat down and wept. The stoic singer refuses to give in and that keeps people listening—they want to see how far he makes it.

Of course, it wouldn’t be an L.A. rock record if there wasn’t a host of big-name help along for the ride. The singer betrays his ability to network and his alt-rock forefather pedigree. Flea chimes in on trumpet for “Song in the Silence,” Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins sets up his kit for the duration of the record, Foos frontman Dave Grohl donated the use of his studio for an afternoon to help see the album to fruition and Shirley Manson shares the mike on “Maybe,” but none of these people take away or distract from the fact that this is solely Avery’s work—everyone else just believed in it enough to help him realize it.

While Avery has yet to exorcise his personal demons with Help Wanted, on these songs he’s managed to fold them inside out and turn them into a fantastic, completely original batch of songs. Judging by the liner notes, it appears that this album was recorded as a last step in some sort of therapy (the way that Avery thanks his wife in the liners leaves that impression). The results are excellent here, and we can only hope that this step being completed doesn’t mean this album will only be a one-off.

Help Wanted is out now on Dangerbird.

Download – "All Remote and No Control" from Help Wanted – [mp3]

More on Eric Avery here: ericavery.blogspot.com and here myspace.com/ericaverymusic

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