New York's Run On is an underground supergroup of sorts, teaming Fish & Roses/Information/V-Effect/Les Batteries drummer Rick Brown, Last Roundup/Fish & Roses/Shams/Six Layer Cake singer/bassist Sue Garner, Love Child guitarist Alan Licht and multi-instrumentalist/college-radio broadcasting vet David Newgarden (who also played in the Mad Scene and the Moles before moving on to a management role with Guided by Voices) in a combo that juggles a disparate and seemingly unreconcilable array of elements into a compelling avant-rock hybrid that never seems less than organic.
The five songs on On/Off take as many distinctly different approaches — from the playful aggression of "Into the Attic" to the hushed balladry of "Pretty Note" — yet the EP is surprisingly cohesive, managing a nice balance of rock and avant-garde impulses. The foursome stakes out a more consistent and distinctive style on the full-length Start Packing, achieving a vibrantly unpredictable balance of adventurousness and melodicism. The first half is winsomely melodic, while a more abrasively experimental (but still accessible) sonic approach dominates the latter portion. Brown and Licht each take credible turns at the mic, but it's Garner's unaffectedly assertive vocals that come close to stealing the show on tightly crafted tunes like "Tried," "Go There" and "Tell Me."
Peach Cobbler teams Brown and Garner with French-born Dominique Grimaud and Monique Alba; Georgia Peach consists of 21 short tracks recorded separately in the principals' respective hometowns: stream-of-consciousness acoustic ditties, refurbished Delta blues, tape collage experiments, sound effects and audio-vérité snippets. Not surprisingly, it's scattershot, but the album's more synergistic juxtapositions have an undeniable charm [Scott Schinder]