June 22, 2010

The Antlers - Hospice

I hate when bands move to a mainstream label like Capitol or Interscope and just completely leave behind their independent stature to make something that's popular, but not great. It has happened to too many bands, and it just gets tiresome. And they get pressured into making music that "everyone will love". If you self-release an album, or are on an indie label like The Antlers, you can really do whatever you want, and be as flexible as you wish. It's better to be not-so-well-known and totally awesome, then be popular and okay-ish. If you're a band like The Jonas Brothers, then I guess you're in a pretty good situation. Because trust me, they'll be living off of this stuff with they're old farts in their 60s because of how many people buy their crap now. Half their calls will be from their mother. It's truly remarkable. Anyway, this review is not about the Jonas Brothers, it's about a newly discovered band called The Antlers and their spectacular record called Hospice. Hospice opens boldly with a flimsily structured but somehow steady intro with a short spurt of waily vocals that seem to reach above it all, even if only for a second. Next comes the emotional track Kettering, where you can, for the first time, really hear lead singer Peter Silberman's hushed voice, like an old man sitting on the porch singing away to an old tune. It quickly rushes into epic scene out of nowhere, with rapid drums, but the same melody. Then comes Sylvia, a similar kick-ass song that has a strong and powerful chorus with yelled vocals and banged-away drums. Also a choir of trumpets and trombones, which always adds so much. Later comes Bear, which starts out just picking away at the softest (possibly) keyboard/sweet-like-cream vocals but with slightly annoyed lyrics. Again, the chorus is filled with catchy drumbeats and Silberman's falsetto voice (still not as high as Daniel Smith of Danielson's voice, but it will do). After this is a spacey sounding that, even though short, can't really be settled into the category of little diddle, because it possesses a really promising and gripping hold on you. I mean, the beginning. Before a short following where you hear this woman's weepy/barely audible but beautiful voice. Sorry I don't know her name. Then comes Two, a "don't worry, we'll pull through this" kind of song, and I'm not saying that like it's a bad thing. It's like an Arcade Fire kind of thing. You know what I mean, or at least I hope you do. It's like a snowball rolling down a hill, gathering snow as it gets bigger and bigger and bigger. Yeah, you know what I mean now. But I think the true eight minute journey here is Wake. It's like Hospice's Stairway to Heaven. Starts out minimized and shy, then slowly builds to a bold chorus of several voices in an emotional/powerful, brassy conclusion. But the tempo is quickly brought back down as epilogue makes its way in. Nothing too special about it. Not trying to be anything it's not. Just something to sit back to. Well that's about it. I'm done here. This is a definite must-have for the year.


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