Wednesday, January 25, 2006

volcano!/Beautiful Seizure/7.4

Even if With shows indulgence in the lyrics (or by reprinting them in fucking IPA on the band's Web site), it's forgiven and forgotten after hearing how sharp Volcano! are as a trio, yanking With up from "$40,000" by the scruff of his neck and tossing him into the marching chaos of "Red and White Bells", anchoring "Apple and a Gun" with an infectious two-chord stomp, and elevating the leaden title of "Pulling My Face In and Out of Distortion, I Blink Too Much" with a woozy horn section, almost inaudible above the arresting wreck of the finale.

We like Jason Crock here at TFM. Really, we do. But he needs to stop eating cheetos while writing reviews. A 98 word sentence tells me that his period "." key is stuck. Some of that canned air stuff should blow those crumbs out, lickety-split.

Otherwise, I am glad to see volcano! getting covered at PFM even on a week full of other releases. volcano! (yes, the first letter is deliberately lower case) released this debut back on early November. However, they've just been released in the UK on iTunes this week, so I guess there is some timing to this. They won't be on CD in the UK until late February. The record has stayed out of the usual buzz, though it's picked up tidbits of coverage here and there. Nonetheless, this record deserves more attention and I'm hoping that a review on PFM is a good start.

Crock's review gives you a decent idea of the record, but it's a tad rushed for an album this rich. (Jason, are you regularly eating and writing? Do we need to talk about work/life balance?) The longer, more song oriented tracks - Fire Fire, 40,000 Plus Interest, and Red and White Bells - are definitely the highlights of the record. However, the track that draws my thumb to the "skip back" button is Apple or a Gun. The track starts slowly then quickly peaks into frantic drumming accompanied by guitar and keyboards. The track then proceeds along its straight ahead, nearly danceable drum line, with explosions of guitar skronk, hyperkinetic strumming, and keyboard noise. That track (which is on volcano!'s myspace page) represents the quality they can reach throughout the record.

As for PFM's review, I just have a couple of things to add -
  • Yes, the band's lyrics are in IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet). However, I found that if you listen to the songs and read the pages, you can actually understand the writing. It's a weird effect, but I actually felt like the songs were decoding the alphabet for me. And no, I haven't ingested anything more mind-altering than coffee today.

  • Crock uses the phrase "shredding the strings of his guitar" in the volcano! review. Ubl uses "riff" and "licks". Are there old copies of Guitar Player laying around the PFM office?

While I appreciate how positive the PFM review is, I would rate this record in the low 8's. volcano! manages to pull off avant-guarde indie rock as well as Animal Collective and better than Broken Social Scene. Better still, they manage to do it with just three members and very little multi-tracking. The record may not be for everyone - they do change moods and styles throughout the album. However, if you're willing to stretch your ears, Beautiful Seizure is a great listen.