If you're on the prowl for something epic, progressive, and tasteful, don't look to the Slats. Their new album, Boom Patrol, can best be characterized as the light-headed feeling one would get after being shoved into a neon room with clashing color schemes and a tilting floor. It's a wild ride, but entertaining if you know what to expect. The album starts out with the straightforward and raw "Ironman," which establishes the rest of the album as a jumble of distorted bass lines and screeching, yet catchy, guitar riffs. "Ignatius," perhaps the album's highlight, sounds like Le Tigre and the Beastie Boys got into an alliterative fistfight. Although the album maintains a consistent upbeat flavor, it starts to sound repetitive halfway through. This eccentric work is definitely worth a listen, but understand that the Slats' style deviates far from the conventional. Sit back, relax and enjoy the ride, but just make sure to buckle your seatbelt first.
- Evan O'Donnell
The Mooney Suzuki
The Maximum Black EP
The Mooney Suzuki
The Maximum Black EP
Loud. Persistent. Slightly goofy looking. My first impressions of freshman boys during NSO? Well, yes, obviously. But
these were also my first impressions of the Mooney Suzuki when I saw them play live nearly four years ago. That evaluation still holds true now, as evidenced by the New York-based band's newest release, The Maximum Black EP, a re-release of the Mooney Suzuki's original EP (then known simply as Black). The band's sound is more than a little reminiscent of the Kinks, and though their music is by no means unique, it's all rock 'n' roll has to be: raw, exciting, memorable. Breakout tracks on the EP include the insanely catchy "My Dear Persephone," a song so evocative of the '60s that it almost seems anachronistic, and "This Lonely Land," one of five bonus tracks. For all its verve and danceability, this EP is less than essential. It is, however, an undoubtedly fun release that gives some insight into the Mooney Suzuki's beginnings.
- Julia Rubin
The verdict is in, and Kasbian serves up a victory with their sophomore album, Empire. The band, compared to the likes of The Killers and LCD Soundsystem, delivers hypnotic beats with sassy lyrics. While the album is far from a creative masterpiece, it skillfully sets itself apart from other "indie rock" records of late and takes its audience through a trippy adventure. The album begins with the extremely impressive title track. The song, which sounds more like an anthem of anarchy, is laden with a heavy drumbeat and a strong cadence. While the song does chug along somewhat mechanically, it never loses danceable energy that infects the entire album. As Empire progresses, the tracks seem to blend together, sounding more like a never-ending dance party than a collection of discrete songs. The last two songs "British Legion" and "The Doberman" show the band can tackle the mellow just as well as the upbeat. The British rockers won't win points for breaking new ground, but Empire's high points could find their way onto even the most eclectic party mix.
- Lindsey Brandt
The Avett Brothers
Without the Southern twang in vocals, you'd be surprised how normal a country CD can sound. But somewhere between the harmonica solos, folksy lyrics, and minimalist instrumentation, the Avett Brothers' petite new EP, The Gleam, becomes distinctly country. And in a time where genre-fusion and experimentation have become the norm, the Brothers' simple style is somewhat refreshing. Indeed, The Gleam manages to avoid some notorious country turnoffs: dramatic tales of heartbreak, excessive references to gin and the aforementioned Southern accent. The Brothers embrace a kind of country music that is tolerable to a mainstream audience without being pop. Still, it is probably best to listen to most of the album with a quiet sense of humor. A standout track, "If It's the Beaches," features a recorded phone message in the second chorus, a clever throwback to the Backstreet Boys circa 1999. The refrain of ear-piercing falsetto in "Find My Love" succinctly explains why it's the last track on the record. Even without accompaniment by anything other than harmonica and guitar, though, the songs remain surprisingly upbeat. In a Jack Johnson-type way, the Avett Brothers are quiet, but not depressing. What's more, The Gleam has some tracks that sounds like they could be on a Zach Braff soundtrack, which is probably enough for most people to buy the CD - regardless of any twang, or lack thereof.
- Sarah Birnbaum
Attention all "emo-rock" fans: yet another band has copped your simple and repetitive sound. Crisis sounds little like the Alexisonfire most fans remember. Their self-titled debut featured singer George Pettit's Locust-style screaming. Although their follow-up, Watch Out!, drifted more towards Dallas Green's singing, the band's style still fit the post-hardcore genre. On Crisis, the band begins to lose their distinctive sound in favor of something far more generic. But all may not be lost. Underoath, for one, flirted with emo-pop with They're Only Chasing Safety, but regained their hardcore presence with Define the Great Line. Alexisonfire still has talent and a knack for writing catchy tunes. Pop or not, this energetic album is an exciting listen, and unlike previous releases, may even get the faithful singing along.
- Michael Klein