Thursday, April 30, 2009

polarOPPOSITEbear - The Cre EP

This is a good album. Good like the warm water between fire and ice, quite suitable for a band called polarOPPOSITEbear, and I use this analogy because this album does indeed contain polar opposites: those of win and those of fail. As many outstanding shining, burning elements there are in this EP, there is an equal amount of shit, both woven together to produce the satisfactorily simple “good”.

To get it out of the way, let’s talk about the shit first. These guys don’t know how to write a song. They know nothing about tension and resolution. Each song save the last one (we’ll get to that) sounds almost deliberately lifeless, as chord changes fail to bring out any resonance in what little melody there is in the foreground, and the background drums just repeat, and repeat, and repeat, yet they end each song with an epic “guitar stab wind down” as if something awesome has happened, when it hasn’t really.

Now for the outstanding parts. Bass. Fuck. Yes. Both the sound of this bass guitar and the guy who plays it are incredible. ‘Nuff said. The guitar too is exceptionally well played, even if monotonously composed, yet it’s master must pay attention to vocals as well (I do my research) so there’s props to that. These guys do post-punk indie rock stuff, which can be hard to capture in a studio environment as it always resonates with a live crowd better (and this style of music was born from the live scene), but the production on this is a whole step (like, a big step, like on one of those pyramids) above most of “those” bands, producing the overall quality of an effervescent, shimmering jewel amongst the drudgery of indie rock out there.

Last but not least, and to end with a positive note, the last track on the album shows that these guys perhaps can actually write a really good song, or at least magically or accidentally pull it off once, for the 5th and final track, “5100 and One Hundred and 3” is flawless in all it’s structural, emotional and soundscapanal majesty. I will be watching their future releases with intrigue on account of this one perfect piece of polar pie.

POB at MySpace

Monday, April 27, 2009

Drugzone - Digital Screams

My first reactions:

"Yes yes, yes!"

"Wait, what? Don't wuss out on me now with the vocals..."

(Still on first track: "Welcome to Sin City")

"...Eugh I know I'm welcome in Sin City but you're not, lead singer..."

"...I really wish this was either purely instrumental or death-metal growled."

Moving further into the album, I applaud the lyrics, which are intelligent, and I empathise deeply with this guy wanting to present his message in his own voice. But that's just the problem- this is a band, and the lead singer successfully detracts all the attention away from the awesome beats, bass, blips and bizarre guitar.

Things start to make more sense as I realise that the singer is, in fact, female. Nothing against female singers but it just doesn't suit this style of music. It reminds me of Evanescence, and that's a bad thing.

After it becomes clear that the awesome bass blips etc. is what they do for every song, I strain to find anything exhilirating in this album.

Having said that, there are some good moments that fall fairly shy of spine-tingling, sort of like lower-vertabrae wiggling. When she really lets her voice go she gets a great gravelly sound out of it that, rather than grabbing attention, sits nicely in the mix, and there are those nice gothic piano moments essential to counteract the wall-of-sound production that prevails the rest of the time.

And some of these tracks have a "fun evil" sense about them. I like bands that look at things from more than one angle, and "fun" is a good way to look at evil. But that means that overall, taking these guys too seriously is a mistake, and not just because that could lead someone to mass murder
with tracks like "I Hate Humans" and "Make Me Kill", but because the whoopy whirls and soaring synths sort of demand light-heartedness (*whispers* I don't think that's what the band is going for though).

As the album draws to a close and I actually look forward to not having to play these guys again, having endured some rather banal tracks, I decide to do some research, and stumble across some photos. They're dressed in typical black, they all have black hair, the girl is, of course, covered in goth makeup to excess (so she stands out from the others who are only wearing a standard amount of goth makeup), one guy has one of "those" (black) beards and one guy is actually deliberately looking away from the camera like Southpark so awesomely sent up in that one episode. Sorry, guys, but Automatic Fail.

If the music was at all gripping, intense, and awesome you could forgive their image, but in the end, they're just trying too hard sonically as well as visually. The only track that I would recommend is "Rose Petal", an interesting gothic take on blues, that falls just before the closing track, being an only-ok remix of an earlier track. I would listen to "Rose Petal" again, but apart from that, not recommended at all.

Drugzone at VampireFreaks.com (it's the first page that crops up with a Google search, go figure)