Day two of our three-day Phratry Records Vinyl Extravaganza sees Ampline and Atomic Garden splitting the bill. It’s an incredibly effective split, because the bands sound incredibly similar. I actually checked my record player to make sure I’d flipped the vinyl when Atomic Garden’s b-side “Step 3: Sonar System Overload” kicked in, because it sounded remarkably like A-side “Our Carbon Dreams.”
The songs quickly distinguish themselves, but both feature the same ideas: grainy guitar distortion, low vocals placed under the instruments in the mix, a straight-forward rock style, and a disparaging cloud hanging over the entirety of both songs. Ampline’s “Our Carbon Dreams” is a no-frills rock song, going so far as to cut out vocals at points and let the song ride on its own merits. Ampline touts itself as a mostly instrumental band, and the tight, melodic chemistry that the band members show in the vocal-less sections prove the truth of that statement. The melodic guitar work and perfectly pitched mood are excellent.
Atomic Garden’s “Step 3: Sonar System Overloaded” seems to feature the exact same vocalist, but has a much more propulsive energy than Ampline’s work. The consistent drums and strumming patterns push the song forward, although it would still be a stretch to call the speed anything more than mid-tempo. The vocals take a much bigger role here than in the A side, and it’s not my favorite part of the song. The song is good, but definitely not as entertaining as “Our Carbon Dreams.”
This Ampline/Atomic Garden is good, but not the best one of the three. If you like straight-up distortion-heavy rock with some artsy leanings, this would be a good release to pick up.