Cowtown – Dudes vs. Bad Dudes

Cowtown - Dudes vs. Bad Dudes

On the third album from Leeds post-punk / new-wave band, Cowtown embrace jangely pop tunes that feature a tinge of 80’s style synths; a sound that is, influentially, more along the lines of the brighter offerings from the genre, comparable to the likes of past genre-giants such as Devo or The Talking Heads.

While on the band’s first album, ‘Pine-Cone Express’ the band worked mainly with aspects of post-punk and pop they also showed interest in the experimental side of the respective genres. On this latest EP, however, the band does away with much of the experimentation found on these earlier releases and sticks to a constant palette of straightforwardness.

Cowtown has an ear for writing upbeat pop-influenced post-punk tunes;  the band’s sound emphasizing the title of their album, an album built on the ingredients of an old school record, that being the inclusion of thick bass, low end analogue synths,  rich guitar,  a crisp drum sound, and vocal flair; all elements of a production aesthetic that focused on clarity in all aspects of a band’s sound. It is a sound that seems intentionally derivative yet manages to maintain relevancy through sheer energy and character. Essentially ‘Dudes vs. Bad Dudes’ sounds just like the album cover; a set of colorful, fun, and “raaaaddd” party tunes to jam out to. While it is a fun listen, at the same time, just like the album cover, if you look at it for too long all of the colors that once stood out from one another blend seamlessly into a pool of saturated vibrancy. It becomes an eyesore, or in this case, a bit of a headache.

My main complaint with Cowtown is their affinity for slathering the guitar and vocals in a nauseating amount of reverb which, much of the time, overpowers a lot of what is going on. Typically, I don’t tend to mind reverb too much, I actually prefer it but when almost everything is either soaked or lost in a saturated mess of reverb it can become mind-numbingly grating and not in a good way. When the guitars aren’t water-logged with reverb there are some moments of brief but tasty solos and the tone the band pulls out along with them is a nice singing overdrive.

Some of the bands most energetic moments can be heard on tracks like ‘Nightbeats’ and most notably on ‘S.Y.P.S.’, a track that opens with some skillful drum work and driving guitar that features a tinge of middle-eastern vibe. The singing fuzzed out overdrive is loaded with color and crunchy chord progressions do a good job of breaking up the monotonous use of reverb.

‘Dudes vs. Bad Dudes’ is a record that will some may find n instant attraction for the vibrant songwriting and moments of cringe worthy but fun cheesiness, although, for myself it is a listen that sits right between listenability and being a bother after repeated listens.

Overall Rating: 4.9

Favorite Tracks: ‘Animals’, ‘Nightbeats’

Recommended: Check out Hired Muscle

Released: 01 April 2013

Links: Visit The Audacious Art Experiment to stream or purchase ‘Dudes vs. Bad Dudes’

-Tyler Thompson

Carpeaux – Black Magic

With the godly Carpeaux, I ensured him that I would review his album a while back so here it is:

If anyone were to listen to this album on their first take they would wonder if there was a story book meant for this epic tale.  At the same time the guitars have the feel and the sounds from a lot of early Hendrix recordings of Black Magic with some wild flaying around.  But at the same time it’s got this nice math rock you would hear out of Tool or Muse (which I’m sure he hates both groups).  Overall the album has got a single trance like feel running through the entire album.  Almost would be perfect album to listen to drunk in a dark room so then your imagination could build up and listen in depth to the album.  The Vocals are dark deep and meaningful but too deep for me.

Best track on the album:

Gilgamesh, fifth king of Uruk: Such a powerful creation that needs to be listened to either live or at 100db minimum.  With a power swinging bass line and a flaying guitar, vocals that come from the deep depths of the sea, only a king could deny his rights into a kingdom of soloist’s with this track.

Download the album for free through this link

Rekapper Overall Rating: 9.876/10

Emma Ate The Lion – Nothing Important Happened Today

This is it’s own brand of “indie rock”, somehow updated in a very distinctive way. I’m going for “art rock” here, even though the genre is kind of shady, because of the exotic rhythms, guitar work and synths – there is a conscious effort into making it more sophisticated and aesthetically interesting while staying in the more elastic and comfortable alternative rock genre. What strikes me as specially good in this release though is the impressive amount variation. The tracks go everywhere and back. There’s an exuberance of different sections, both subtle developments and clean breaks,  as well as nice instrumental sections, sometimes focused on synths, sometimes on guitars, but always an opportunity for the drummer to freak out a little bit. There’s enough instrumental goodness to impress the average music-lover or metalhead in general.

The very good singing, with a quite recognizable main voice (sounds a bit like Cold War Kids at some points, but the instrumentals are in a level way way higher), looms over all with equally competent lyrics, and the interplay with the back vocals is yet another factor for variation, as well as the main singer experimenting with different singing styles and emotions.

In general, you can sense this is very well crafted and has been through a ton of work and effort. That might hurt it’s catchiness though, which is completely irrelevant to me and probably to most of the blog’s readers, but I can see how a track like “Viral Extensions” might lose at least half a dozen sections and instantly become more radio-friendly. It’s a bold move to not fall for that trap and the kind of heroic deed that will frequently pass unrecognized, so I stand as one of the few people who will thank the band for this. And anyhow, “Capillaries Bursting Like Fireworks” is much closer to being radio-friendly (even with a lenghty instrumental section). I’ve been following this release for sometime, so I remember when Capillaries… was the only track available on the bandcamp page. It sure does feel like the natural single on the album, I can only hope it achieves some kind of success.

Now a few words about the lyrics. I didn’t care for them the most of the time. One of the reasons why Capillaries… is so catchy is the meaningful repeated one-liner “Father will I see you again?”, which is lacking in possibly every other track. Like I said before, the lyrics are competent though. Most tracks don’t have a repeating chorus in the traditional sense,  they don’t tie the song together, and are instead overwhelmed by the different sections, you don’t get that “here comes the chorus” feeling, and that’s great. Because of that, if you don’t listen to the music while reading the lyrics, some of the best lyrical moments are probably lost, which means that some emotional punch is gone. Most of it sits between nonsense and hermetical though, so the lyrics play well their part of a medium for the singing.

Anyhow, this is a great release, very well recorded and certainly worth a couple of listens.