Independent Clauses | n. —unusual words about underappreciated music

The Master Thief's jarring indie-rock will knock you out

September 24, 2011

It’s rare that a sound punches me in the face, so the opening seconds of The Master Thief‘s “Beethoven by Proxy” were jarring in the best way. The De Kalb three-piece rock band sounds like The Minutemen as filtered through modern indie-rock vocal melodies and structures, and that’s something I can get behind, yo.

They accomplish this feat by having jagged, stiff guitar riffs that bounce all over the place in unexpected ways, held in place by a steady rhythm section. The sung/spoken vocals provide the cherry on top, as they play with the listener’s expectations as well. “Beethoven by Proxy” is the best benchmark of their sound: you’ll know immediately whether you’ll like the rest of Get It While It’s Gaunt by the end of the tune. Now that’swhat an opening track is supposed to do.

The rest of the seven-song EP is a fun trip through a unique sound. “The Master Thief” and “Antsy Nantsy” are continuations of the rock vibe, while “Tank Top” is a slowed-down, poppy take on their angular sound. “Pterodactyls” is an impressive instrumental that allows the guitar to do double duty as rhythmic leader and primary melodist (a role the vocalist often plays). The only misstep is the jokey “Secret Song,” an acoustic song that detracts from the overall effect of the EP (although they do an admirable job of incorporating the angular melodic ideas into an acoustic guitar framework).

Get It While It’s Gaunt is an impressive, attention-grabbing EP. If you’re into mid-’80s/early ’90s indie rock or like angular riffs, The Master Thief will not disappoint.

Stephen Carradini and Lisa Whealy write reviews of instrumental, folk, and singer/songwriter music. We write about those trying to make the next step in their careers and established artists.

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