Monday, May 17, 2010

Album: Woven Bones - In and Out and Back Again

In and Out and Back Again (Woven Bones)
Album: In and Out and Back Again
HoZac, 2010
Rating: ****** (6/10)

I got pretty interested in Woven Bones a few months ago and even meant to put them on my Bands to Watch in 2010 list. I didn't because I lost the paper where I wrote down the list, though, and when I recreated it from memory at the last minute, I missed these guys. But it turns out, it's just as well. In and Out and Back Again is a bit underwhelming. It's not bad, but it sounds like exactly everything that's come out on Siltbreeze or, well, HoZac, in recent years.

The album is a series of crusty, reverb-drenched psych-punk pieces that land on the more agressive and abrasive side of garage rock. The skuzzy, lo-fi production is nice, but hardly anything groundbreaking or even trend-defying. Tom-heavy drum beats thud thud thud and amps feed back a little and some really cool riffs turn up here and there.

Most notable in the melee is the voice of singer Andrew Burr. He doesn't hit a correct pitch once on the album - intentionally - but still manages to map out some supercatchy tunez. The high pseudo-yelp that ends many of his lines is more than a little reminiscent of Iggy Pop, which is a good thing and less cliche than trying to sing like Ian Curtis.

The minimalism and restraint of drummer Carolyn Cunningham and bassist Matty Nichols are just right to support the Burr's best guitar hooks. For example, both the impatient "Half Sunk Into the Seats" and the more measured, Stooges-esque "Creepy Bones" rock crunchy, spy-movie-worthy themes. Songs like the energetic "Couldn't Help but Stare" and poppy, major key "I'll Be Runnin" keep the album from becoming tedious.

If this album came at a different time, it might fare slightly better, but the whole skuzzy, lo-fi, Jesus & Mary Chain meets Nuggets thing has really been beaten to death in the last few years and I just can't get it up for another intentionally crappy recording with overly reverbed vocals. I don't think this band is trying to jump on a bandwagon, but they have the misfortune of ending up on one anyway, and ending up on it late in the game. Maybe that would be overridden if the songs were amazing, but they aren't. The riffs are solid and the melodies can be pretty head-noddable, but being late-comers to a trend - well, early bird gets the good reviews, I suppose.


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