in the running for worst album cover 2009

in the running for worst album cover 2009

 

Chicago four piece Them, Roaringtwenties are relativly new on the circuit but have drummed up a lot of talk in their wake.  Focusing mostly on jazz based math-rock its hard to get excited about yet another contender for the non existant math-rock crown.  These boys do try and stand out in several ways, some more effectivly than others.  Overall a very fun time.

Most math rock you will likely find rarely takes itself too seriously (see don-cab’s song titles) but not to the level that is achieved with Future Sandwhich.  Not only featuring ridiculous song titles but also completely odd lyrics and confusing use of auto tune.  Granted they are used very sparingly across the songs it really doesn’t add much of anything in my opinion.  In fact id say it takes away from the instrumentation a bit.  The strange thing is that the more you listen to it the more you’ll start to warm to the strange vocals about sandwhiches and womens “hair” styles.  Sampled childrens story book audio is also used in the first couple tracks but just ends up a little too gimmicky.

Honestly though do you really care about math rock vocals? because i sure dont.  As far as instrumentation goes it is actually more impressive than i had anticipated. Track 2  “Harry Carry Frontier Guide Hawkeye” blasts out of the gate and rarely lets up using tightly wound jazzy guitars.  Harmonica also makes an appearence and is used really well to dance over the controlled hoe down math rock stomp.

 The one thing i noticed about this group and its hard to notice unless your paying close attention is one guitar always seems to be playing something rhythmic but atonal and the other something melodic.  Often times switching which guitar does which or joining the other in unison.  It really shows that there is a high value for varied instrumentation as some songs pull out some pretty big time changes.  Drums stick pretty close with the bass but are expertly played with well placed fills and open hi-hat use.  They dont typically add to the guitars but it sounds like it might be a bit hard to compete with those flying guitars.

Aside from the vocals another stumble which is really only a minor gripe is when the group chooses to slow things down it gets a bit “Kinsella” if you know what I mean.  This wouldn’t normally be a problem if it wasn’t such a shift from fast slightly inventive melodies.  Those boys do tend to have a monopoly on pretty math styled offerings as they are incredibly prolific.   As I said a very minor fault as they are very nice portions of the songs, I could have dealt with something a bit more original. 

For better or worse the vocalist and keyboard player ended up dropping out of the band recently so we will see if future releases will find them replacing that aspect or not.  I have a suspicion though that they will probably go instrumental as most of their songs are already that way.  Will be looking forward to a proper full length.

 

RATING: A NERD ROPE.  Very pretty to look at and tastey.  A little too sweet at times but satisfied in the end.

http://www.myspace.com/themroaringtwenties

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The UK’s This Town Needs Guns are starting to garner some pretty notable press these days.  It isn’t hard to see why as they play a suddenly now back in fashion math rock/ indie rock lite made popular in the 90’s by the Kinsella boys (Cap’n Jazz, Joan of Arc).  The four piece made quite a good impression on a lot of people with their first effort and split with Cats and Cats and Cats. 

Animals finds them with a more stripped down layed back approach that lends itself fairly well to Stuart Smith’s soaring fallsetto but the band seems to have lost there previous fire dropping the more distorted guitar work for a more clean toned dexterous finger picked and tapping style.  This certainly sounds more interesting and in theory and listening it is but once you step away its hard to recall anything you just heard.  Exceptions are made as on the album opener “Chinchilla”, which has a sort of middle eastern feel and an excellent structure. 

Major fault should not be placed on Tim Collis though as he does add his own style and flair to the proceedings. It just seemed like his runs should be more memorable and sometimes that cant be helped. Singer Stuart Smith’s performance however i believe to be the true culprit.  Its frustrating because on previous outings Smith sings with conviction, this release he sounds subdued and lifeless. This is a bold claim and what a lot of people argue about when it comes Animals.  My thoughts are that he recycles the same long drawn out notes and melodies for each song.  While the guitar and drums are locked in battle Smith is content to sit back and croon.  This really hurts the individual songs.

This is an album i really want to like and have listened to it so many times for the simple fact that it includes excellent guitar work,  fast technical drumming, and tasteful singing.  These are a few of my favorite things…hmm where have a heard that before?  I understand a lot of people like it and i understand why but the faults are just a bit too much for me to stomach.  A good follow up but not where they could be with more variety, heres hoping.

 

RATING: French fries that while hot are tastey, if not a bit too salty. Unfortunatly start getting cold faster than you can eat.