Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Sleigh Bells - Reign of Terror

I saw this coming. Maybe I'm just a killjoy but I always thought, even back when no one could shut the fuck up about it, that "Infinity Guitar" and the rest of "Treats" were self-limiting endeavors. The choppy, crackling, lo-fi (maybe faux-fi) guitar hooks paired with the saccharine-sweet yelps of Alexis Krauss can only take listeners so far. The not-so-subtle back and forth between sexy vocals and distorted guitars with no mid ground got grating on "Treats".

The opening track boasts an obnoxiously indulgent Brian May-esque riff with live applause. I don't know if it's supposed to be an ironic nod to 80s metal, just like the testosterone-filled track names seem to be, but sometimes it comes off as profoundly dorky. The best moments of the album are not the contrived flights of cock-rock the duo indulge in so often but the slower, more emotional ones. "D.O.A." despite what the track title might conjure, is a beautiful atmospheric ballad that would sound at home on a Blonde Redhead or School of Seven Bells record. Tracks like "End of the Line" and "Never say Die" also fall into this slightly milder but more tempered category.

My assessment is that the duo is still a little confused about their direction, which is something I don't want to fault them for. However, I will say that tracks like "Born to Lose" and "Crush" are stinky turds whose nasty smell effects the overall quality of "Reign of Terror". Worth a quick listen but not a home run by any means.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Onwards to the Wall - A Place to Bury Strangers

By Jack Daniel Betz

I've been waiting a good, long, time to hear more from APTBS, ever since I caught them opening for The Big Pink two years ago. But sadly, half of this EP is more catalog filler than anything else.

The fluttering bass line of "I lost you" gets lost in the noise because there's no dynamic contrast. The title track is equally aimless at times but does at least include some sexy female vocals.

"Nothing Will Surprise Me" is catchy enough at first boasting its chugga chugg choo choo snare backbeat but the fuzzy songwriting makes the product so oblique in the end that it's forgotten.

"So far Away" works. It's got a decent core.

The closer, "Drill it Up", fills me with some hope too. A buzzing, highly distinguishable bass riff cuts through the din and isn't crowded out by too much unnecessary clutter. Vocals are easy to hear.

Let's hope these are on the EP because they're not quite up to snuff for the LP rather than the intended highlights.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Le voyage dans la lune - Air

I've been listening to the promo copy of this album at work for the past two weeks and before even listening through it once I'd already made up my mind about it. Le voyage is a brilliant concept album that explores different sonic depictions of space rock ranging from Holst to Manfred Mann.

The first track sets a grave Kubrickian tone with booming timpanis and warbling, gregorian dirge. But then it evolves. Songs like "Sonic Armada" take listeners back to the glorious days (way before I was born, in fact) when the Earth Band shredded Moogs like rice paper. "Parade" lends some very modern, punchy, Coldplay like guitar lines, which, as much as I hate to admit, is space rock. It closes out with "Lava", which is clearly a tribute to the most iconic space-rockers of all: Pink Floyd.

I wish all rock music was still this album oriented.