Today's Note For Note features two New York-based bands, both signed to Indiana-based labels, who produce noise and/or introspection. Whichever you prefer.
A Place To Bury Strangers
Onward to the Wall
Brief, uptempo and loud, yet also vague, droning and lyrically incomprehensible, this NYC bunch know the best way to avoid being an outright bummer: be propulsive. On this five-song EP, the drums motorize, the bass pummels and the guitars bite (when they aren't busy overwhelming your senses). The vocals? They echo and swirl around before they ultimately fall flat. But isn't that the point when your childhood idols were The Jesus and Mary Chain and My Bloody Valentine? To sound smart without ultimately saying anything? For those who claim an indifference to the shoegazing genre, simply crank the volume until the brittle distortions become tidal waves of sound. Congratulations, you've just transformed them into a rock band, which is what they were really going for in the first place.
Composed of hubby and wife duo (yes, another one of those) Devon Church and Aleksa Palladino (who played Angela Darmody on HBO's Boardwalk Empire), Exitmusic writes moods, not songs. After enough rotations of their debut EP, a delicate feeling of the macabre stood out more than any single riff, lyric, motif or melody. It's a good thing feeling still counts for something. "The Hours," an anthemic tune where Palladino stretches her vocal chords to Florence Welch-like proportions, shows personality and drive, and hits you with its echoing percussion. Too bad she turns her voice in a hushed, compressed whisper on the closing song "The Silence," a title she takes a bit too literally. There is nothing outright offensive to be had, but certainly nothing outright memorable either. Maybe their music needs more of what their album cover needs: color.
A Place to Bury Strangers and Exitmusic will be opening for the Joy Formidable at the Bluebird on March 22.
Jon is also the founding editor of the pop culture blog PopTometry