Black Taj


North Carolina’s late, indie rock, eastern-motif guitar wizards Polvo were always an exhilarating listen. More importantly, they were beautifully distinct in a morass of hyped and often disappointing guitar bands. Ten years after the band’s demise comes Black Taj, whose core features former Polvo guitarist Dave Brylawski and bassist Steve Popson. Recording the band’s self-titled debut was another former member of Polvo, Ash Bowie, along with Cherry Valence’s Brian Quast. Boasting said pedigree, it is easy to understand why expectations might run high for Black Taj. The album can be summarized best as an extension of the players’ former band. Here, sounds often return to the mystery and beauty that served as Polvo’s signature, and yet Black Taj brings the big, big ’70s psychedelic rock sound. Opening the album is the largely instrumental “Back to the Bridges”, a bold seven-and-a-half minutes of melodic riffing and brawny chording chug-a-lugging against a hyper-kinetic slide. What follows is an album heavy on loud guitars and ambitious arrangements nuanced with airy vocals floating to the rafters. While delivering nothing particularly Earth-shattering, Black Taj is a solid listen, succeeding in entertaining those who mourn the absence of Polvo.