When It Rains, It Pours
A locals-only flood of new stuff from Dusty Carroll, Senryu, Cold Hands and Army vs. Navy
This isn’t just hypothetical babble. The Ersatz EP from Dusty Carroll is a perfect example of talent coming from an unexpected place, at an unexpected time. It’s outer limits perfected, with vibes a skilled jazz musician might create, but with enough synthesized noise to remind us that, no, this is not jazz. Carroll’s sound is more of a throwback to the time when electronica was high art, back when electro-soundmongers were considered to be the bastard cousins of classical maestros. This is not noise made for dancing, but rather for listening and thinking. It’s more a Pollock than a soup can; it’s something you can’t quite understand, but you know it’s quality.
But when piped through a speaker, the raw energy of that unique approach possesses an altogether different listening experience. Since its debut in 2002, the trio of Wil Wright, Lori Maxwell and Steven Rodgers has existed on a plane somewhere between the experimental and traditional ends of indie pop/rock. But Senryu’s latest EP is without doubt an unapologetic allegiance to non-conformity.
From the opening head-bobbing track “The Inside of My Head (Is A Cyclone)” to the final synth-opus “Keep Your Chin Up,” the band dwells within melodies akin to the work of an abstract artist, only Wright & Co. don’t throw paint. They clash the merry chimes of bells with sinister dulcimer tones all the while intermittently bellowing drone-like chants of “keep your chin up.” It’s a musical anomaly worth exploring, but the prize track is actually the straight-laced pop ballad “Dust on the Lens,” which allows a much-needed reprieve from the percussion overload to enjoy Wright’s, uh, unique timbre.
Deftly avoiding the ersatz Gang of Fourisms that have plagued the glut of dance-punk acts (See The Rapture, Radio 4, etc.) of the new-millennium-that-isn’t-so-new-anymore, Cold Hands seem to have found their musical methods through evolution instead of, ahem, “intelligent design.” It’s apparent that the members of the band all arrived with their previous musical experiences and influences still intact. And the resulting sonic amalgam oversteps the anachronistic renditions of the sounds of olde presented by your average dance-punk bunch. The band’s occasional foray into a mathrockish, post-hardcore approach adds to the overall crunchewy tastiness of the EP.
While rhythm is the pivotal element of Cold Hand’s style, vocalist Henry Gibson provides melodies that counterbalance the songs’ skeletal structures. This is one of those records that immediately draws you in, yet is still full of subtle nuances that you might just not notice until the tenth or twelfth focused listening session.
Cold Hands will appear with Matgo Primo at The Electric Ballroom on Friday, January 12. Visit TheNewBeat.net .
Army vs. Navy