Chokebore - Anything Near Water

The most obvious thing to say about L.A.'s Chokebore is that it doesn't sound much like the rest of its AmRep labelmates. Of course, the band understands full well the value of wrenching power from its Chokebore guitar dynamics, but rather than lingering on the amount of distortion buzzing through its foot pedals, Chokebore clears out some sonic space for its frontman, Troy Balthazar, who lets out some genuinely tortured yelps all on his own. "It's very simple, we live like centipedes and die like wasps", he warbles on "Wash (You Glow)", a sentiment which instantly becomes the band's regimen and his poetic discourse, as well as the song's hook. Each track on Anything Near Water (the band's second album) is cut from similar emotional and musical fabric, laying low and simmering on Balthazar's manic-dream impressions or scrawling coarse riffs across a steady rhythmic foundation with equal artfulness. But don't be fooled by Chokebore's select aggression or lyrical psyche-probes: "Thin as Clouds", "Lemonade", "Weightless" and "Cleaner" contain their share of memorable, albeit odd, pop turns, as well.

Colin Helms

CMJ New Music Report #422 (1995/04/10)