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User Shorty Patent Co., Depart So Slow

Album Review

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(Self-released, CD)

Burlington's User Shorty Patent Co. features members of Grace Potter and the Nocturnals moonlighting on spacey, epic indie-rock. Taking cues from Neil Young's exploratory jams as well as the narcotic swirl of space rockers Spiritualized, the band's debut release Depart So Slow occasionally falls victim to sluggish pacing and half-formed ideas. When the band is firing on all pistons, however, there's plenty of "ragged glory" to be heard.

Most of the tunes on this disc are around the 10-minute mark, but don't expect a jazz-school noodlefest. Instead, the band deals primarily in mid-tempo rock songs that start off hushed but spiral into incendiary guitar freakouts.

"Soon Enough" is beautiful and subdued, somewhat reminiscent of late-period Beatles numbers such as "Don't Bring Me Down" and "I Me Me Mine." Potter's classy organ solo complements the song's low-key waltz, while principal songwriter Scott Taylor's no-frills guitar and toned-down singing give the tune a hazy, lilting quality that would fit nicely on the credits of an independent film.

The following track, "Moving Pictures," likewise sashays, but the similarities in meter and dynamic soon become tedious. Punctuated by delicate guitar fills, the cut nevertheless illustrates Taylor's major faults -- namely his penchant for repetitive strumming patterns and listless vocal melodies.

"Antidote" achieves moments of distinction with its loping 3/4 pulse and Middle Eastern tonalities. Dark, moody textures once again reign supreme; the track's hypnotic groove would be fine background music for a 19th-century opium den.

Drummer Matt Burr and bassist Bryan Dondero do their best to liven things up on closing cut "Lonely No More," but nebulous songwriting and yet another snoozy tempo mar the cut's potency. There's nothing wrong with the formula, it's just that there's little to differentiate the tune from anything else on the record. Props to guitarist Scott Tournet, however -- his ballsy guitar solo cuts through the fog like a probing searchlight, recalling rock's hairiest, freakiest years.

Many of the songs on Depart So Slow achieve the right vibe but lack a sense of purpose -- without the crescendos and cool effects, there isn't much to hang your hat on. User Shorty Patent Co. are masters of the slow burn; they just need a bit more fuel to really catch fire. Taylor joins Potter and the Nocturnals as a special guest this Tuesday, Jan. 18, at Nectar's.

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