X Would Rather Listen to Y Than Suffer Through a Whole C of Z’s by The Czars (Review)

As with all Czars releases, the centerpiece throughout is the sublime voice of John Grant.

Checking in with only four tracks, it takes longer to recite the full title of The Czars’ new tour EP than it does to listen to the whole thing. This, however, is absolutely the only negative thing there is to say about it.

While still largely overlooked in their own country, the Denver act is quietly building a sizable following throughout Europe, landing European dates with the likes of The Flaming Lips, David Gray, and 16 Horsepower. That they’ve been so overlooked for so long in America is a stinging indictment of the corporate control of radio in this continent. That current radio formatting doesn’t have a place for acts of this caliber is simply staggering.

As with all Czars releases, the centerpiece throughout is the sublime voice of John Grant. Nobody working in music today — and I mean absolutely nobody — makes despair sound as beautiful as Grant. His is a seemingly effortless talent, a voice at once enormous, haunting, intimate, soothing, and threatening. His is the voice of the jilted lover, swinging from a quiet emotional collapse to sudden lashings of anger.

Bolstering Grant is a further quartet of solid musicians. While Grant himself lays down the keys, the twin guitars of Andy Monley and Roger Green build a world of atmosphere and mood while the rhythm section of drummer Jeff Linsenmaier (quite possibly the busiest drummer in Denver, as the man’s everywhere) and bassist Chris Pearson lay down a dominantly jazz-based bed for the rest of the band to stretch out upon.

Tour EPs are often of interest only to completists, but this one — along with their two full-lengths (also on Bella Union) — is absolutely essential.

Written by Chris Brown.