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Crystal Antlers – Tentacles

tentacles

Crystal Antlers – Tentacles (Touch & Go Records; released April 7th, 2009)

This is the record that I’ve been the most excited about- after their stellar EP last year I was furiously searching the internets for more Crystal Antlers. Alas, those six songs were all I could get. Until now.

This album leaked pretty early, which is good because I was able to give it a good twenty listens so I feel we’re beyond intimately involved at this point; even going as far to burn it to CD so I could listen in the car. So, as this world stumbles into the digital age (and in response to the leak) the album gets an early iTunes release, the physical release comes this week.

Standout tracks aside- this is a terrific album; a cohesive statement of garage-informed, psychedelic-influenced, blues, rock and soul. Think of 13th Floor Elevators, Blue Cheer, MC5 and The Stooges birthing a six-headed baby; lead singer Jonny Bell‘s raspy and raucous delivery (not to mention his superb bass playing; dropping low frequency sonic bombs) over the twin guitar attack of Andrew King and Errol Davis, party-starting synth lines and organ fingerings from Victor Rodriguez and the one-two punch of percussionist Damian Edwards and drummer Kevin Stuart, I’d be surprised if Crystal Antlers aren’t once again near the top of my year-end list. This band takes no prisoners and careens headlong into annihilating all eardrums, but with a keen sense of rhythm and melody.

Other bands take note- you have some work to do if you wanna match the ferocious raw intensity of this band and there’s absolutely no letdown after the EP- the main focus of this band is to rock, and rock they do. There’s also hint of conceptual continuity with the prequel to Until The Sun Dies (Part 2) with the obviously named Until The Sun Dies (Part 1) included here on Tentacles– try playing them back to back (they work together as component pieces); Part 1 fades into Part 2, but as they’ve been released chronologically out-of-order, you have to do it yourself. And if there was ever a mission statement over the course of the two records, it’d be Crystal Antlers‘ idea that we live in an increasingly fragile world and humans are pretty much wrecking the shit out of it. Pretty grim, but the music as well as the message is delivered in a cohesive package; so there’s your argument for conceptual continuity.

There’s also the extended instrumental noise passages (the album’s intro Painless Sleep, as well as the gap between the single Andrew and the album’s title track; the two-minute Vapor Trail, also this horn-honking weirdness called Foot Of The Mountain towards the back end of the record) that serve to split the album into three distinct sections. The first section is the lead up to Tentacles, the centerpiece of the record. The songs more or less slant towards becoming faster and faster until Tentacles, the most explosive track here.

But more about the album’s single Andrew– it’s as fine a song I’ll hear all year, and after seeing the video (over and over) I’m going to say it’s the best of the year so far, a horror flick-meets-Koyaanisqatsi kind of vibe with some concert footage thrown in… Take a look:

There’s a certain “paralysis by analysis” that comes with reviewing records, listening over and over to the same pieces of music, poring over little nuances, going over track after track, trying to figure out if it could be better, what could be bad about it, etc. I have to say I’m very happy with everything on this record- to me; it’s near perfect- the production, the instrumentation, the overall vibe, the message, the lyrics, everything. I love this band and their entire recorded output is only nineteen songs (about 64 minutes of music). It’s probably a bad thing to be so biased, so overwhelmingly ass-kissing when writing a piece of music criticism, but I didn’t get into this to discover shitty music- it’s a pleasure to find a band you really enjoy, they don’t get old after repeated listens and you champion their cause every chance you get.

That’s why I do this.

Tracklisting:

  1. Painless Sleep
  2. Dust
  3. Time Erased
  4. Andrew
  5. Vapor Trail
  6. Tentacles
  7. Until the Sun Dies (Part 1)
  8. Memorized
  9. Glacier
  10. Foot of the Mountain
  11. Your Spears
  12. Swollen Sky
  13. Several Tongues

Crystal Antlers