Artist: Crystal Antlers
Title: s/t EP
Label: self-released, Touch and Go (reissue)
Format: CD, 12”
Genre: lo-fi, indie rock, alt rock, garage rock, psyche rock
I recall sniffing around my favorite local record shop alongside Keith a few years ago. We were pouring over the vinyl records and we came across a 12” by Crystal Antlers. “Oh, I’ve heard of them,” Keith said, eyeing it with a grin. “You should get it. They’re awesome.”
And I did. I took the 12” EP home and spun it and eventually bought the CD version. Keith had compared this band to a growing number of acts who were springing out from odd corners of the country at the time, like No Age. It was this sort of noisy combo of psyche and garage rock, fused with a harsh blend of indie and lo-fi. I’ve been hooked ever since.
“Until the Sun Dies pt. 2” is a perfect opener. It’s loud, it’s intense, but it’s not afraid to hit a few mellow patches. And before long, it’s over. “Vexation” spirals in next, with furious organ and guitar. The vocals are just as wild and loud as the first track and I’m banging my head along with the tune. Again, it’s short, but it is quite powerful.
“A Thousand Eyes” picks up right off the bat. I would dare say this is the catchiest track on the EP, but I will let you decide for yourself. It’s structured flawlessly and I find it very hard to compare this to anything that’s come out in the last ten years or so. The blending of noisy, lo-fi rock with psyche elements creates something unique that is just hard to describe. It’s no wonder bands like the Flaming Lips are fans of this group. What’s not to like?
After a flourish of intense feedback, we’re met with a pop-ish organ that slowly guides us into a thick haze of distorted guitars. I feel like I am in a foggy forest, and I would suppose that’s a good description for this track (“Owl”). This track is a tad on the mellow side but it doesn’t not take away from the intensity and the pace; this track still packs as much of a punch as the first three. And with a shriek, we’re at “Arcturus.” The pace quickens and the whirl spins again. So far, this EP has been one of the most intense rides of my life. The final track, “Parting Song for the Torn Sky” is no exception to that. This track is by far the loudest on the EP. It’s distorted and in your face, shrieking with a fiery force unlike any other. Perfect.
The atmosphere on this release is fairly uniform. It’s thick, hazy and loud, and a little sludgy at times. It’s not low quality by any means, just lo-fi and noisy. I love stuff like this, which I know seems odd seeing as I’ve reviewed tons of ambient records. This music is fresh, furious in its intensity, blistering in its delivery and I can safely say that it will never completely fade out from our view.
I’m happy to say that thus far, Crystal Antlers have released two LPs, which are available from the labels Touch and Go and Recreation LTD. Some 7” are available as well, which you can get from the labels or their webpage. Visit often, won’t you?
4.80 out of 5.