Independent Clauses | n. —unusual words about underappreciated music

Heavier Than Air Flying Machines throw down chaotic post-everything

December 21, 2011

It’s amazing the amount of racket that can be made with a distorted bass guitar. Heavier Than Air Flying Machines‘ wild post-punk/post-hardcore attack has a wicked bite due to the thunderous lines laid down by bassist Jeremy Pyne. The guitars are still an integral part of debut album Siam, but vocalist/guitarist Jaymes Pyne has much more influence as the acrobatic throat of the group than a fretsman. His bombastic vocals stretch from the theatrical caterwaul of System of a Down’s work [“Follicle Gang (Green)”] to the shrieking falsetto of The Darkness (“Folio Verso”); The only constant is that they are forceful the entire time. (The group yells so often used are manically enthusiastic as well.)

That piece can be extrapolated: HTAFM is almost always forceful on Siam. The only exception is “Abacus Abacus,” which trades At the Drive-In/Death From Above 1979 comparisons for Bloc Party ones. It’s a nice break from the near-constant chaos of the album, and they connect it to their primary sound through a breakdown/chorus thing. They then slap listeners in the face with the banging sheet of distortion that is “Relativity,” just in case you were getting soft.

But while that’s the closest BP comparison, there are other dance-related elements peppered throughout. “Ascent of the Iron Talmud” throws down a nearly-funky bass groove, while “Malleable In So Far” has a staccato swagger that could pass as the dancy end of Spoon if the bass weren’t fuzzed out to the maximum.

But those are the outliers. The majority of this album is spazzy, energetic rocking, from the intimidating pacing of opener “Bedlam.Twain.Control.Towers” through the ratatat of “Vitiated/Continental” to the doomy crush of closer “Catastrophe I Castigation.” The totally sincere Heavier Than Air Flying Machines explode with a profoundly dangerous sound, and that makes Siam incredibly attractive. Rage against the machines, indeed.

Quick Hits: 28 Degrees Taurus

January 11, 2011

Sometimes bands form to ride the crest of a trend. Sometimes the trend catches up to a band that was already there. The latter is the case for 28 Degrees Taurus, whose jangly/dreamy/psychedelic female-fronted songs fall neatly between Beach House’s dreamy haze and Sleigh Bells’ skronked-out, ultrarhythmic pop noise.

Anchored by the knowledge that they’ve been doing this since 2005 and didn’t just form to catch the trend, you can enjoy the good songs on All The Stars In Your Eyes. And they are good. They aren’t as immediately catchy as Sleigh Bells, but they aren’t as slow as Beach House. There’s defined rhythm, full guitar work and upbeat tempos, but the vocals tend more to dreamy bits and pieces than staccato bursts of notes.

It’s a combination that works really well. This, admittedly, is not my favorite genre of music, but I can recognize talent where it lies, and it lies here. 28 Degrees Taurus has carved out a niche in indie-rock, and they kick it in that spot for 12 tracks. If you’re up for that, then you’ll enjoy it. If you think that reverb is the worst thing to re-occur in music since The Darkness tried to bring back hair metal, well, this isn’t for you. But know that it’s a preference thing, and not a quality thing: these tunes are well-written, energetic and engaging. Rock on, 28 Degrees Taurus.

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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