Calicoco: Underneath (Dadstache) - review | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Sunday, February 25th, 2024  

Calicoco

Underneath

Dadstache

Sep 02, 2021 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


Upstate New York solo artist Giana Caliolo (who uses they/them pronouns) comes out swinging on Calicoco’s sophomore album, Underneath. The opening salvo of “I Hate Living With Me” sounds of downed power lines flailing away in the deep end of a swimming pool. And the stridency of that image and sound is met with Caliolo’s lyrics centered on self-loathing. The pummeling of the track’s beginning ultimately gives way to Caliolo’s see-sawing incantation of the song’s title. Not leaving much room for them or the listener to catch their breath. If the onslaught of their layered guitars and drums don’t get you, Caliolo’s thoughts will.

Their debut album featured flashes of Underneath’s harder edges, but the shift from standard fare indie pop to a more brooding affair is instantly evident and a welcome change that sets Caliolo apart in a crowded field. Stef Chura springs to mind as an equally gritty performer. The most direct songs here, including the one-two punch of the title song and “Heal Me,” are both brutal and brutally honest. “Underneath” speaks to being on the edge of collapse, while the range of personal affronts on “Heal Me” recalls Kurt Cobain’s recorded desperation met with a fittingly grungy undertone. As the song careens from verse to verse, Caliolo screams, “just give me a god damn lobotomy.” Fortunately, that crude procedure was outlawed in the ’60s, and Caliolo uses more nuanced tools on several of the album’s highlights.

“Strangers” starts slower and builds to a furious swirl of Caliolo’s breathless vocals, scuzzed out guitars, and stray notes arcing through the eye of the storm. But the pinnacle of Underneath arrives on “Melancholy,” as the foretelling of a string of echoey and seemingly random piano runs points to the maelstrom to come. And with a Wayne’s World worthy head-bobbing cue that lands precisely 2:02 minutes in, “Melancholy” makes for the “Bohemian Rhapsody” shape shifter of its day for those with little patience for the baroque. To further evidence their range, Caliolo closes with the über stylish and coolly hued “I Was the Devil,” that recalls the early ’80s glory days of Rhodes synthesizer sound beds. Though the closer here, the song begs for opening song live treatment replete with minutes worth of oozing synth loops and generous helpings of stage fog.

Underneath’s raw physicality makes it yet another pandemic era release that makes the return to live music all the more necessary. The album makes for a compelling listen in its most torturous moments, but the prospect of Caliolo battling it out with their demons right before your very eyes is the type of memory making magic we’ve all been deprived of for too long. (www.calicocomusic.com)

Author rating: 7/10

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Average reader rating: 6/10



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