Not every band can get away with changing their name with every release, and just when their title had grown to its most unwieldy length yet (The Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra And Tra-La-La Band With Choir), they also released what I felt was their least compelling work (last years This Is Our Punk-Rock, Thee Rusted Satellites Gather And Sing). But, it's now just over a year later and the group has cut back on their name and seemingly taken a more raw approach in their recording and output and it has again done wonders. Originally released as a concert-only CD EP for a European tour, The "Pretty Little Lightning Paw" EP has now been expanded to over 30 minutes and given the full release treatment for everyone else in the world.
"More Action! Less Tears!" opens the release and should be enough of a punch for anyone let down by recent work of the group. A beautifully noisy instrumental track that builds with huge swelling riffs, it's a storm compressed into 5 minutes and it sets a nice tone. "Microphones In The Trees" follows and although it stretches out over nearly 10 minutes, it's easily one of the better vocal-driven tracks done by the group recently. Opening with guitar and vocals, it weaves through chiming dissonant moments that build and unfold before letting loose with a squalling ending that somehow feels amazingly hopeful.
The title track of "Pretty Little Lightning Paw" is another gloriously dense track that layers strings and squealing organs and guitars into a noisy collage that overwhelms with huge washes of sound and a willfully rough edge. "There's A River In The Valley Made Of Melting Snow" is the only cooldown on the release and it closes things out with another heavily treated swirl of vocals, guitars, and toybox tinkling that again pushes it into an almost psychedelic folk realm that works in spades. If these four songs from the group are the product of a more spontaneous writing and recording process, I only hope they keep moving in a similar direction because this shorter release packs more punch than their last full length. Noisy, yet still very moving, this is another new direction for the group, and a great one at that.