> The Walkmen
Rooted in explorative rock dynamics and diverse playing styles, the concentrated music of EchoBrain’s debut album takes the listener on a trip into uncharted musical territory.
The trio consists of vocalist and guitarist Dylan Donkin, drummer Brian Sagrafena, and former Metallica bassist Jason Newstead. Together the three make cryptic sounds both deep and rich in texture, often sounding like Soundgarden, Led Zeppelin, Incubus, Queens of the Stone Age and the Smashing Pumpkins all rolled into one hazy, slowly evolving melodic rock sound.
The 10-track disc flows seamlessly from song to song thanks to despondent vocals carefully placed over jangling guitars, soft jazz-funk drumming and mysterious electric guitar noises. Soft, melodious and creative, it is a beautifully crafted album that shows artists can still take music to a higher level.
Eels have a chip on their shoulder, and Souljacker starts with that bad attitude as soon as the listener hits play. “Dog Faced Boy” pulls no punches as the band presents a tortured vignette of a canine-looking lad atop a layer of smutty guitar scales and driving drums.
Pointing fingers at mothers, punks, and Jesus before the first song comes to a close, Eels uses a lethargic romp to wax existential on the fate of the many hapless characters populating the remainder of the album. This pulsing, restrained anger shows up in all its splendor on balls-out rockers like “Souljacker part I” and “What Is That Note?”
As effective as this riff friendly sound is, the fun really starts when the guitars are put down. Tight percussion grooves and subtle string work on “Fresh Feeling” prove that it pays to lighten up every once in a while. Simple, straightforward, and non-confrontational, it’s tracks like “Fresh Feeling” and “Woman Driving, Man Sleeping” that give the listener a view of what Eels do best: composing expertly laid back songs filled with melancholic nostalgia, tempered by a hope that the next song might be the one to set things right.
Robert James Algeo
Prepare for a new addiction. More powerful than nicotine and caffeine is local goddess Mirah Yom Tov Zietlyn’s latest CD. Although decidedly more hi-fi than her previous album on K records, You Think It’s Like This But Really It’s Like This, Mirah still manages to get her point, and amazing voice, through the layers of production. The songs on Advisory Committee are at the same time both elusive and deeply personal you know she’s not telling you everything, but she’s not feeding you bullshit, either. Like on “After You Left,” “You had to go / I wanted you to stay / but just like you said / after you left I was okay.”
Advisory Committee will make you feel like a 10-year-old breaking into your older sister’s room. It is much more than an infectious, eclectic blend of folk, electronica and indie-pop. It is Mirah’s private journal.
Home From Home
Swedish punks Millencolin are back with their first studio album in two years and a sound that for long-time listeners is noticeably more rock than punk. Some people (including the band) call this “progress”, however, “disappointing” seems to be a better fit.
Home From Home does offer some great tunes; “Afghan,” the highlight of the album, takes an honest poke at the U.S. government and its never-ending ego kick, while “Botanic Mistress” is an example of the punch offered on their previous albums. Lyrics have always been a strong point for the band, now that vocalist Nikola Sarcevic has mastered the English language, listeners can follow along without the aid of the lyrics insert.
Overall, the album doesn’t have the speed or catchyness found elsewhere in their catalog. In just over 37 minutes, Home From Home conjures a steady stream of mixed emotions, none of which is satisfaction. Recommendation: first time listeners should check out their older stuff.
Millencolin will play the Troc on Tuesday, April 9.
Everyone Who Pretended To Like Me Is Gone
New York City is home to yet another snarling rock band with The Walkmen. Melding the musical DNA of two former bands, The Recoys and Jonathan*Fire*Eater, the band’s confident swagger exemplifies the Big Apple’s edgy rock renaissance.
With indie cred intact the Walkmen recorded much of the album with vintage instruments in their own studio certain other traits peel away the group’s pretty facade.
Everyone Who Pretended To Like Me Is Gone captures a band still in the formative stages. Hamilton Leithauser’s theatrical singing is potent on “Wake Up,” but the band is much tighter on other tracks, such as the jangly “Revenge Wears No Wristwatch” and “We’ve Been Had,” The Walkmen’s most frolicking moment.
Utilizing an eerie, languid piano on much of the album, The Walkmen are willing to stray from the conventions of straightforward rock. The only problem is, they stray a bit too far. A little Ramones or New York Dolls kick would have remedied the album’s inevitable sluggishness.
The Walkmen will play The Khyber on April 5.