Crystal Antlers - EP Release Date: October 7th, 2008
Record Label: Touch & Go
With a few distortion pedals and a sensation just slightly slant, any schlub with a few ideas and enough spare time can become the next new plaything for stoic, cross-armed hipsters. There is enough of a following for these bedroom-spawned shoegaze techies to sketch out a rough idea of how they manage to drown and drone with a few twists of a knob and a basic understanding in playing a keyboard or two. Though while the market for this music isn’t saturated just yet, it is refreshing to see bands already going a step beyond and giving progressive rock a push in a different direction. Crystal Antlers is one such band that has recently come on the radar. They’re not the typical “fuzz-sters” in that the band really has their own style: a sort of trashy fruit-punch bowl of lo-fi, percussion-laced headspin; a midday stroll down a California street, barefoot and high as nuts.
This EP is about as impressively promising as any other band could possibly achieve with only six songs. Jonny Bell’s vocals singe and sweat, connect and outlast. Organ fills and transient guitar solos create a dizzying rapture, an ecstatic mess. Finale “Parting Song for the Torn Sky” goes through every motion each song before it had mapped out, yet moves the listener beyond any comprehension, doubt, subtlety and sensible composure they could have maintained until that point. Vocals that echo into a tornado of fuzz and frantic; a guitar that shimmers, shames, shape-shifts; percussion on another tier of indistinguishable rhythm and circumstance – and that is just one song. Second song in, "Vexation", is the only underdeveloped of the handful; a good testament to the band's percussion capabilities, though at the core simply a setlist fill and nothing more. The gyrating guitar lines are much more equipped elsewhere and come off as a little grating by the end of it.
Crystal Antlers don't overstate their presence, EP is just enough. The six songs here do get a little tired after repeated listens, so it is not as if these upstarts are invincible. However, the incorporation of a little psychedelic whilst fitting in elements of soul-inspired punk is hearty way of treating listeners to a little bit of originality. While the band does utilize quite a bit of electronics and pedal-sass, they don't overdo what has been severely overdone. So if you are scouting for a solid listener for the next month, well, this is my best recommendation.