These Arms Are Snakes – Tail Swallower and Dove

8 11 2008

These Arms Are SnakesTail Swallower and Dove
2008 – Suicide Squeeze

You know, I like math rock. I’ve come to terms with it. That particular taste is largely a product of my age and the kind of music that was popular when I was record shopping every weekend and buying the CDs of every single band my band ever played with or every show I saw. Though I haven’t listened to them in a while, The Owls were fairly big in my musical sights in the early 2000s, as were Cap’n Jazz, Battles, and to a lesser extent, Don Caballero. Looking back on it now, those were much more earnest musical times, or at least what I saw was, and I may have missed a lot.

Anyway, I’ve bought all of TAAS’s albums, but I haven’t liked any of them as much as I like this latest, unexpected (by me, anyway) release. Math rock (well, lots of music from the early 2000s) is a bit of a guilty pleasure for me. My husband is something of a rock purist and has no patience for instrumental music or complicated mathy noisy stuff. Though I dno’t define my musical tastes based on his, I do respect his musical knowledge and opinions, so I’ve been harbouring kind of a guilty affection for math rock, which, I’m now thinking, Husband would say sounds “emo.”

Anyway, Tail Swallower and Dove brings me back to those days when I was just starting to really figure out the music scene outside of my hometown but under the radio radar. There are mathy breakdowns and strange time signatures, but they don’t sound requisite in this record; instead they sound like a fond memory, and I like ’em. TAAS use electronic noises and guitar loops to achieve some almost industrial-sounding sonic backgrounds and then throw distorted vocals and hooky, odd-signatured guitar riffs into the mix, and the whole thing just makes me incredibly nostalgic in a way I’m having a hard time really explaining in any kind of effective way. Sorry.

So, where TAAS’s firt album was a bit noisy for me, and their second was a bit industrial-sounding, this latest album hits it just right for me. Take a listen!


Parts & Labor – Mapmaker

27 07 2008

Parts & LaborMapmaker
2007 – Jagjaguwar/Brah

Okay, so, apologies to the 3 people who have found and read (or did read, until I stopped writing) this blog. I hit a writer’s block – ironic, since I’m not a writer and suck at it when I do it recreationally. Ah well; so it goes.

The album that finally inspired my ass back into writing was Parts & Labor’s Mapmaker. I worked the day shift at the record store on Friday, and my still-mostly-drunk coworker bought me this record after seeing that I’d been listening to Husker Du the night before, which was nice of him, since I’m broke until Wednesday. He told me to take it home and listen to it loud, which I didn’t do, since the only system I currently have is my laptop, which only has one working speaker. Instead, I put it on my ipod and listened to it on my long walk to work the next day.


I kind of thought my coworker was talking shit when he said these guys took a page from Husker Du. I mean, they’re from Brooklyn. I figured they might have a good song or two, but I was in no way prepared for what this album sounds like. It does kind of sound like Husker Du, but it sounds like Husker Du and something else… it sounds like Husker Du smashed up with The Dismemberment Plan. Actually, at first, I thought the singer was Dismemberment Plan frontman, Travis Morrison, but it’s not. In fact, the four guys in Parts & Labor don’t really seem to be or have been in any other bands at all.

But what’s it like, really?

Mapmaker sounds like all the stuff that other people think is so great about Animal Collective (noisy, sort-of-long songs and lots of dynamics and soaring vocals and kind of a freewheeling, letting loose kind of feeling to the whole enterprise) but done, well, well, rather than in a profoundly irritating fake-animal way like A.C. That is to say, it’s driving Husker Du-esque drums (with lots of tight, interesting flourishes – the drumming on this album rules), soaring, distant and echo-y sounding vocals, lots of weird, electronic guitar and keyboard-ish noises that sound like drills and buzzsaws half the time, no bass on half the songs, and even the odd electronic beat or squawk thrown in. There’s lots of energy, and the songwriting is tight enough to keep all the disparate sounds from sounding like an annoying pile of trendy noise. There are even a few dance-y kind of hooky tunes, but not enough to make this a dance band in any sense of the word. What I mean to get at is that this is a band that is better than the sum of its parts and that looks worse on paper.

Finally, these guys sound like they mean it, and I suppose that’s probably what I like most about this album. Yes, there are lots of trendy, hip, elements in their songs, but that doesn’t seem to really matter in the face of the four guys in the band just, for lack of a better term, givin’er. It’s totally shitty of me to say, but Parts & Labor sound like they love music and love playing, and hearing this album made me realize how relatively rare that is in music coming out today.

Thanks for getting me out of my slump, guys.

Also Listened (some picks from the last 45 days):
Beck – Modern Guilt
Alejandro Escovedo – Real Animal
Quest For Fire – S/T
Husker Du – Flip Your Wig
Carcass – Heartwork
Lair of the Minotaur – The Ultimate Destroyer
Fugazi – The Argument
Elliott Brood – Mountain Meadows
She Wolves – S/T
Melvins – Nude With Boots
Antelope – Reflector