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Post Rock/Math rock • United States

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Polvo biography
POLVO is an experimental rock band from Chapel Hill formed in 1990 by Ash BOWIE, Dave BRYLAWSKI, Steve POPSON and Eddie WATKINS. BOWIE and BRYLAWSKI met at the University of North Carolina where they found a shared interest in music, which would eventually lead up to the formation of the band. Starting of from the local indie and post-punk scene, the group would eventually create music that would later be commonly known as math rock and POLVO would be one of the earlier examples of it. Up until 1998 they kept releasing records and touring the North America where they met with the likes of bands like SONIC YOUTH.

They went to hiatus around that time and had a reformation 10 years later with the new drummer Brian QUAST to attend a couple of festivals. In 2009 they released a new album with their old record label and after that had their last performance up to date in 2011. In 2013 they released studio album 'Siberia' without any promotion for its release.

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POLVO top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

0.00 | 0 ratings
Cor-Crane Secret
3.80 | 5 ratings
Today's Active Lifestyles
3.67 | 3 ratings
Exploded Drawing
0.00 | 0 ratings
0.00 | 0 ratings
In Prism
4.00 | 1 ratings

POLVO Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

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POLVO Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

0.00 | 0 ratings
Can I Ride
4.00 | 1 ratings
Celebrate the New Dark Age
0.00 | 0 ratings
This Eclipse
3.00 | 1 ratings
Heavy Detour

POLVO Reviews

Showing last 10 reviews only
 Celebrate the New Dark Age by POLVO album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1994
4.00 | 1 ratings

Celebrate the New Dark Age
Polvo Post Rock/Math rock

Review by TCat
Special Collaborator Eclectic / Prog Metal / Heavy Prog Team

— First review of this album —
4 stars Polvo is a math rock band formed in Chapel Hill, North Carolina in 1990 by Ash Bowie and Dave Brylawski, both of whom are the band's vocalists and guitarists. There are different possibilities about what the meaning of the band's name is since the word can mean octopus in Portuguese, or powder, dust or slang for sex in Spanish. Even though their music is classified as math rock, the band doesn't always agree with that. Their music can be quite complex and unpredictable, having an angular style which causes some people to think they are playing out of tune.

The band's first EP "Celebrate the New Dark Age" was released in 1994, after releasing 2 full length albums previous to that. It has 7 tracks that span a total run time of just over 25 minutes. It is considered the 2nd most important math rock album by Rate Your Music website and is quite critically acclaimed. The scrappiness of this album, according to alternative-country singer Ryan Adams, is also what makes it appealing and I completely agree.

Starting off with the 5 minute track "Fractured (Like Chandeliers)", you instantly hear that angular sound from dissonant guitars which seem just off tune from the rest of the music. The band is also known for the frequent use of the whammy bar, and you can hear that on this track too. The sound is a bit chaotic, but not using the wall of sound style as much as just being dissonant and unique. The lyrics are sarcastic, as they usually are from this band. There is a little bit of screaming here, but nothing over the top, with a bit of the post punk attitude.

"City Spirit" starts off a bit quieter with a guitar and a ticking percussion. When the band kicks in, the song still remains less chaotic, just a bit off kilter, but more accessible. The wobbly feel in the guitar is a great effect. "Tragic Carpet Ride" goes back to a louder sound with the guitars feeling a bit muddy, but still with a jangly, out of tune feel. The math rock mentality gives the music a sound that is a definite step above the typical post-punk sound of bands like Sonic Youth with a noise aspect that is more organized than SY's sound. "Solitary Set" is more dynamic with the odd guitar riffs, but with some quiet moments in there that give it all an organized feel.

"Every Holy Shroud" is a good example of why so many people hear the math rock sound in their music. This has a heavy beat that the vocal melody uses quite well to give it all a catchy sound. Again the band uses dynamics quite well to make the music feel organized even though it also has that imperfect undertone to it, which definitely gives the EP its appeal. The lyrics and the music has a lot of humor to it, and there are some very interesting meter shifts throughout. At just about 6 minutes, this is the longest track on the EP.

"Old Lystra" is an instrumental that starts off as if it is not sure where it wants to go, but finally settles in to a moderate tempo with a slight western sounding edge to it. Later it uses a warbly guitar sound that keeps things just a bit uneasy. "Virtual Cold" has a slow beat and trashy sounding guitars sounding like they are trying to create a blues-inspired rock riff, but not quite pulling it off. This is definitely scrappy sounding, but in a really good way.

If you love your music with a unique sound, that sounds like it is just not quite right, quirky and odd, but with a bit of a hard pop edge and post-punk like, but better, than this is your type of music. If you like music that is typical, then you won't want to do this, but if it was typical, it wouldn't really be progressive. Since this album is considered a standard bearer for math rock, then it is definitely an important one. I know that I enjoy it, because of it's off-kilter sound, but since it is an EP, it doesn't quite reach the essential status, but I can definitely give it an excellent rating as it does achieve its aim in its short run time. Great stuff and quite off-the-wall.

 Siberia by POLVO album cover Studio Album, 2013
4.00 | 1 ratings

Polvo Post Rock/Math rock

Review by Finnforest
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

— First review of this album —
4 stars A striking album from veteran indie band

Polvo is a veteran indie-rock band from Chapel Hill NC who have been around long enough to have a second act. Sounding like young guys from the band Television's sphere of influence, their initial run in the early 90s concluded in 1998 as the guys went their separate ways, due to geography and commitments. Their fans wouldn't let them go. So around 2008 these old friends reconvened for a five year stretch that produced two more albums. After recording "Siberia" they have again retreated to their wives, kids, and real jobs. If this album is to be their last gasp, the guys have went out on a high note.

Forget about "post rock/math rock" labels as this band doesn't need our PA monikers. This is an American indie rock band with a unique vibe. Their 1993 salad days college hangover masterpiece was amusingly called "Today's Active Lifestyles" and could be compared to Dinosaur Jr chilled out with a splash of REM. Downright reckless guitar wars and car stereo killers mellowed just a bit by a laid back, southern gent feel. "Lifestyles" defined their young man sound.

"We couldn't get in that old headspace again if we tried." -Diffuser interview 2013

Fast forward twenty years and college rockers are now parents, yet still great friends separated like many by busy lives. Their reunion yielded two more albums and this was their last.

On Siberia, Polvo sounds like a more svelte Mission of Burma meets Wilco.

Gone are some of the sharp edges and swagger, but none of the ragged beauty. The songs of "Siberia" simply have a bit more maturity, richness, and quality to them. They have a different mindset that wisdom, both in a musical sense and a life sense, bring to the table. But they haven't lost their ability to rock, nor have they gotten lazy in terms of sound and rhythm exploration. One senses the opposite-it took effort and commitment to reconvene one's "old bandmates" and that is an opportunity not to be squandered.

The money shot in this band is the ever-so-cool dual guitar weaves and dances. Despite these songs being more pre-written and less chaotic than days of old, there is still a vibe that anything could happen. Somehow these beautiful ringing chords spar with the layered notes all while serving more accessible songwriting, which boasts plenty of toe tapping and even some decent Jeff Tweedy-like croaking. "Old Maps" could even be an outtake from Midlake's "Van Occupanther." Bass and drums are as shifty as the guitars, certainly grooving, but always ready to list the boat off kilter just for fun. Much of the beauty comes not from the basic song or the jam necessarily, but from the outcome of the band's insistence that both must be equally elevated. The tiles are certainly cool but the good stuff is in the grout.

Ever evocative and never losing my attention, the tracks of Siberia are intelligent rock music not ready for the rocking chair.

Thanks to historian9 for the artist addition.

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