Autodrone - Strike a Match
Record Label: None
Release Date: 2007
Everybody loves nice surprises, and New York-based Autodrone’s debut LP Strike a Match is certainly just that. It’s a safe bet to approach records from unsigned bands with a hint of caution, because there must a reason why they are unsigned. However, in Autodrone’s case I can’t help but feel that this band deserves to be recognized for the quality of their music. Their fascinating blend of styles creates a wholly enjoyable and engaging listening experience, and the album as a whole has a really nice feel to it, partly because vocalist Katherine Kennedy’s voice is so pleasing and harmonious. But don’t go thinking the novelty of a female singer is all this band has going for it; the guitar work on this album is nothing short of excellent, and the rest of the instrumentals range from competent to strong.
Strike a Match is an album that defies the pigeon holing genre-heavy music scene the band inhabits, and the sheer range of songs on display is remarkable. The band’s sound revolves around churning rather deliberate guitar work, pounding drums and Kennedy’s melodic voice, suggesting a modern My Bloody Valentine. This combination is best demonstrated on the tracks “Final Days,” “Sometime,” and “Kerosene Dreams,” all three of which are based on tuneful verses with massive choruses. “Sometime” also benefits from its fast pace and simply excellent guitar work and is easily the record’s standout track. “100,000 Years of Revenge” and “Moth of July” in contrast are both surprisingly Mars Volta-like, with synthesizers and rushing affects working over guitars and no vocals. However, this area is clearly not the band’s forte, and while the ambient nature of “Moth of July” is at least pleasant, “100,000 Years of Revenge” feels rather annoying and unnecessary. Album closer “Pictures,” another attempt as progressive songwriting, feels a little unfocused and excessive in length, although it does have a certain light charm to it, and arguably is Katherine Kennedy's finest hour vocally.
The fast-paced “Can’t Keep These” sounds oddly reminiscent of Muse and Paramore simultaneously, with buzzing guitars, distorted vocals and a rather catchy chorus. In fact the whole album feels a little reminiscent of Muse at their most accessible, as with the anthemic and thoroughly engaging “With Arms Raised” and the delightful tuneful “Through the Backwoods.” The record is certainly not perfect; at times Kennedy’s vocals begin to sound thin and the lyrics are at times indistinct, hidden beneath the guitars. There’s also not a great amount of diversity in the vocals, and although enjoyable, her voice begins to sound a little repetitive by the end. The production and mixing are not great, but this also gives the album a nice raw aesthetic. However, the minor flaws and slightly more unfocused tracks never stop the record from being remarkably engaging.
Considering that Strike a Match is the first full-length release from Autodrone, it’s an astoundingly accomplished and confident piece of music from a band with a bright future. The record shows remarkably mature songwriting and very strong musicianship, and there’s a raw energy and very honest feel that permeates every song on the record. Strike a Match is so deep and diverse that in all likelihood there is something on this album for everyone to enjoy, and for those who love the louder excesses of shoegazing rock in the vein of My Bloody Valentine, this album is a must listen.