Chokebore - A Taste for Bitters

There are two predominant modes for this foursome: either they're very quiet or very loud. The quiet parts consist of a pretty bit of plucking from the guitar and perhaps a bit of tip-tapping or whispering, then the band comes in full throttle. Dark romanticist Troy Bruno Von Balthazar's wavering voice holds himself and his loves in equal contempt: "I've been staying up nights walking through floors, now I can see through her eyes and I don't speak no more". Whether resounding or hushed, the songs are slow and burdened with his melancholy. Moreover, the band's lingering pop hooks (think Pixies not Melvins) are the perfect accompaniment to Von Balthazar's despondency. Chokebore's live presentation is more angry than resigned. While brothers James and Jon grind their axes into the stage with little regard for gear or the pain of body/wood collisions, Troy jumps around doing acrobatic moves left over from his skateboard days. Willfully holding true to the band's original vision on long player number three, A Taste for Bitters is another step for these gents. Check out the catchy guitar bits on "Popular Modern Themes", the surreal "Days of Nothing" and the majestic hook of the title cut.

Tad Hendrickson

CMJ New Music Report #496 (1996/10/28)