Friday, February 15, 2008

The Curve of the Earth - Attack in Black

The Curve of the Earth

Attack in Black
Dine Alone Records

SCQ Rating: 83%

One of the biggest issues I have with my job is that I have to work next to a radio. In most cases, I consider myself lucky that the radio is one of the few things I can gripe about, and while the root of my irritation deals with their formatting and the general corruption of modern day FM airwaves, bands like Attack in Black have never helped. ‘Young Leaves’, the lead single from their 2007 debut ‘Marriage’, would’ve been entirely forgettable if it hadn’t been playing twice an hour on Edge 102 all summer straight. Blame it on Can-Con regulations all you like, but there is only one singer in the history of rock and roll who could sing a chorus of “Na Na Na Na”’s repeatedly and pull it off. Daniel Romano and Spencer Burton, needless to say, are no Van Morrison.

So when my friend wrote me about a record he overheard in a vinyl shoppe, and how upon inquiring the band behind it, received Attack in Black as the answer, he engaged in a fit of self-abuse and existential crisis. After all, that band appeared intent on pigeon-holing itself as the latest Canadian rock band featuring no visible style or personality. They’ve thrown a curve-ball indeed, then, with their I-Tunes and Vinyl only LP, The Curve of the Earth.

‘I’m Going to Forget’ opens with some disarmingly simple and pretty acoustic chords, which when paired with shuffling percussion and tired but sweet vocals creates a poignant song about how time unravels memories we hoped to hold in every detail. It’s the first in a collection of hushed back-porch odes that are best heard on your own, or in the company of close friends while quietly breaking down a 24-case. Think about the quieter material on Eric's Trip's 'Love Tara' and you're in the right ballpark.

While first listens can occasionally teeter on the brink of monotony, the varied vocalists (each band member lends their respective pipes), some unexpected backward-singing, and the general brevity of most songs overcome any threat of acoustic overdose. The electric bombast of ‘You’re Such an Only Child’ plus the use of banjo and other organic instrumentation (is that a kazoo on ‘Sparrow’!?!) also keep proceedings unpredictable. I only wish more bands would take this kind of initiative and offer different sides of their sound. Not only does this release make Attack in Black suddenly matter to me, it also justifies giving the punk-influenced mood of ‘Marriage’ another chance.

Listening to the sparse beauty of songs like ‘Rope’ or ‘Morning Bird/Water Line’ make me long for Spring when I can take a record like this out for a walk in the rain and pay no mind to where I’m going. Releasing this collection on vinyl requires no explanation once you’ve listened to its 12 songs (included are access to the album MP3s), and it’s one more good reason to fix the belt of that old record player.

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