A name like The Outfit does carry with it a certain association with 80s American new wave, doesn’t it? The hype pronounces The Outfit as a band that ’offers an earnest take on garage rock revival, building on the ground laid out by such acts as The Strokes, and early Kings of Leon’. Somewhere in-between I suppose. As far as this track – “Strange Bones” – is concerned (off of the most current album, Broken West Wishbone Test), there is a fair bit of late 70s pub-rock, Two-Tone plundering, ska-punk and a healthy dose of The Clash thrown into the overall mix. All good, in my book! The video? It’s suitably vintage and retro-delicious laced with bizarro puppeteering to boot.
It’s no secret that I have been incredibly wary of the current wave of the Post-Punk Revival, believing that it is mostly warmed up leftovers from a special musical epoch now 25 years old. But of course, there is an exception to every rule.
This Portland-based band started life as a spiky noisenik outfit and released a debut album in that vein in 2003 viz. Chrome Rats vs Basement Rutz. However, in 2005, Chromatics would undergo radical changes to its lineup with Ruth Radelet (vocals), Johnny Jewel (producer/multi-instrumentalist), and Nat Walker (drums/synthesizer) joining, with guitarist Adam Miller the remaining founder. The result was a sophomore release – Night Drive – that having taken electronica fully on board, with strong hints of the Post-Punk Revival. The track “Tick of the Clock” gained recognition after it was featured on the Drive soundtrack.
Which set the stage for the latest album – Kill for Love – released earlier in 2012, and in my humble estimation, one of the best albums of the Post-Punk Revival era, let alone 2012. Right from the opening cover version of Neil Young’s Hey Hey My My (Into the Black) – the haunting “Into the Black” (video below), it is obvious that Chromatics is not interested in sounding like the rest of the sheep copycat hipster bands out there in the modern rock wasteland.
“Kill for Love” may superficially recall the 80s with its New Order/Depeche Mode references but there is a distinct attitude especially in Radelet’s languid vocal delivery. Miller’s guitar work helps songs like “These Strings Will Never Look the Same” and “Dust to Dust” escape the usual hipster cliches by channeling a hybrid of older sounds coupled with the now-traditional dance pop styles. Not only that but the band’s penchant for emphasizing soundtrack designs in songs like “Broken Mirrors” and “The Eleventh Hour” keeps the aural experience intriguing always.
More thoughtful (and less trippier) than its predecessor but Kill for Love demonstrates that it is possible for uncompromising intelligent and artistic bands to make challenging original music during these fallow years.
You can also listen to Kill for Love in its entirety at Soundcloud!
Dunedin-based band Knives at Noon sure makes an impression with their EP Glitter Guts, power-packed with slick and dark tunes to get your feet moving. Fans of The Bravery, Bloc Party and The Killers are sure to love this well-produced EP and the indie/electronic rock band. The first track on the EP, Violins 2.0, is a massive indie dance track, reminiscent of fashionable parties downtown, yet slows down and increases in intensity toward the end with amplified vocals, a la Brandon Flowers. A personal favourite on the EP is the second track, “Human Heart From Modern Art”. Besides the epic song name, the track also has elements that make up a great indie rock anthem, having a catchy tune that stays in your head, crunchy guitar riffs and solos that create space and also giving a sense of euphoria (experienced across indie clubs across the world). Ending as abruptly as it began, it leaves you wanting more. Fortunately, the next track, “Licking Plastic”, doesn’t disappoint with its use of sudden stops, use of synths and ringing goodness of the guitars and keyboards. “ThunderVeins”, the last track, sounds much like the previous track, but with lesser intensity.