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Espers – III

Released on Drag City/Wichita Recordings

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.

I first found Espers three years ago while perusing the aisles of Amoeba blindly searching for album covers that looked interesting or struck some chord of recognition. Like a badger in a foxhole, I knew I was into something good when I saw the neon pink and yellow cover of Espers’ The Weed Tree gently pulsating before my eyes. Little did I know that this was the second release from the Philadelphia-based psychedelic folk trio, and one of covers varying in style from standard traditionals to Michael Hurley and Blue Oyster Cult.

I was immediately taken by their cover of “Black Is the Color (Of My True Love’s Hair)”. Their arrangement of the much-covered Appalachian-based traditional paired with the stunning vocal harmonies of Greg Weeks and Meg Baird captures the purity and innocuousness of the intention behind the original perfectly.

An Esper is defined as an individual who has been blessed with the powers of telepathy and extra sensory perception, and was apparently coined in the 1950s by science fiction author Alfred Bester. But, the songs from the band’s latest release III are far too mighty to be chalked up to mind games.

The band has gleaned its style from many sources, but unlike most attempts, it has the formula right. The perfect mixture of swoon, pop, drone, prog, folk, and even a little noodle rock make for a truly enjoyable listening experience. The standouts are the album opener “I Can’t See Clear” and “Caroline.” Both are rife with the classic Espers feel and a beat that gently carries you from verse to verse. The movement within III is masterful, and on a whole the album is sure to be a standout among others in the field.