Independent Clauses | n. —unusual words about underappreciated music

Citroen / PBD

May 21, 2013

anachronaut

Winter in Alabama consists of 45 degrees and raining. Spring in Alabama consists of 65 degrees and raining. I think it’s understandable that it took far longer than usual for me to break out of my wintry folk cocoon and get back to rocking. But with Minneapolis trio Citroën around, there’s no way to not love rock. The four-song Anachronaut shows off the impressive songwriting skills of this bass-heavy outfit.

Opener “Shifting Sands” harnesses an impressive Queens of the Stone Age-type bass riff to power a wiry, propulsive groove that QOTSA so often misses these days. “Shore” amps up the groove elements of their sound, letting the bass lines drive the song; “Terminal Bliss” strips out almost everything but the bass and some minimal percussion to create an ominous, unforgettable tune. As a bass player, it’s incredibly fun to hear the low end being treated as an equal player in the sound. It gives the tunes a unique vibe that works in their favor: even if no one pointed out that the bass has an unusually important role, you’d be able to tell that something was different in this sound.

Citroën doesn’t view rock as a vehicle for electric guitar antics, but as an expression of three people all working together to create a unified sound. As obvious as that seems, it’s a rare take on the genre that deserves praise. I look forward to what they put out next.

pbd

The striking rhythms and herky-jerky guitar work of “Ghost Strokes on the Bell” hooked me on PBD‘s When Everyone Is Getting Wise. The band describes themselves as prog, but it sounds to me like Joan of Arc’s post-punk freakouts, math-rock, and post-Vampire Weekend indie rock. The duo relies heavily on drums as the foundation for the spazzy riffs, but bass guitar also plays a grounding role in keeping the sound from floating away in esoteric guitar noodling.

Male vocals provide the element that brings the whole thing together. They are occasionally melodic and beautiful (“Turn Over Your Hand”), but most often used as a rhythmic instrument that ties the divergent parts together. I like the vocals most of the time: can something that I can’t sing along with be called catchy? Or maybe just “enigmatically mentally repeatable”?

The short length of the songs (All under 4:06, most under 3:00) also helps. The bite-sized tunes still have an incredible amount going on: PBD is more interested in abrupt song shifts than smooth transitions, allowing each second to be content instead of segue. This makes for completely unpredictable song structures; add that to the unpredictable riffs, and you’ve got a unique listening experience. PBD’s When Everyone Is Getting Wise is a fascinating indie-rock album that will be thrilling for adventurous listeners.

Stephen Carradini and friends write reviews of bands that are trying to make the next step in their careers.

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