Zombie Love & Murky Waters
A Lull wasn’t happy with just putting out one album this year. In the vein of Portland indie-rockers Menomena, this Chicago quintet revisit their dense and dreamy experimentation with four tracks that show notable growth since their last release. An extension to May’s Confetti, here new songs have been mounted with high production value, letting their dynamic movement realize its full potential. Thanks to pristine studio work, the band’s layered compositions of dark indie rock can expand in a space that is all the more engaging. Often, moments of rhythmic intensity dissipate into space to let intertwining voices float in emptiness before plunging once again into a cold lake of reverb as rays of light cut through its murky substructure. It’s a game of tension and release that persists for the whole record, moving from the hook-happy “Pot Luck” all the way to the meditative blackness of “The Pit.”
Songs rise from percolating silence; bright melody adorns a framework of blurry lines; a peaceful chorale takes center-stage. The singing conjures lines that seem almost plucked from memory, finding familiarity in their simplicity. They pose questions about the future and bleed into haunting, rumbling rhythms to hunt for complex answers. Fuzz comes and goes, but there is an ever-present heaviness about this record, an ambient sediment setting the stage for percussive play and echoing synth. While there are moments of brightness on this record, it evokes a mood much deeper than its lengthier counterpart. This release runs about 20 minutes, with only the strongest of their palette invited. It will be something really special if the band can apply this kind of atmosphere and flow to a full LP.
A Lull play Casa Del Popolo Sept. 15, $10/$12
Check out photos from the show here.
I Want Revenge
With their debut LP, Kill Matilda kicks zombie ass and takes no prisoners. Punk ‘n’ roll pulses through their veins like a narcotic substance, and frontwoman Dusty Exner is screaming like it’s the only thing keeping her alive. It’s a performance that makes her the center of attention for the whole record. The band bangs out solid rock riffs, every once in a while tapping into southern-fried hardcore grooves and nearly memorable guitar solos, but Exner is what makes this band exciting.
Her voice rides a dark rock steed, telling bloody stories of nightmare lives. From the dark shadow that envelopes the murder-heavy “Geisha With a Switchblade” to the Cranberries-sounding “Pomegranite” to the heavy metal of “PBJ,” Exner’s voice goes from clean vibrato to throat-tearing screams on a dime, wrestling for your attention even in the few moments when the instruments get a little bland. When the band is strongest behind her, the result is like a keg of dynamite; red-hot guitar tone soaks the self-destruction anthem “Already Dead” as Exner belts out line after line, constantly increasing her intensity.
While the album loses a bit of its initial bite towards the end (there’s a questionable punk rock waltz in closer “Test Drive of Neurotica”) this merry gang of West Coast rockers definitely have the guts to push their sound outside of three-chord punk, and despite missteps, _ I Want Revenge_ is a solid record from a promising new band. And when the zombie apocalypse comes, who better to fight with?
Kill Matilda Play Cafe Chaos Sept. 19, $3