Band: The Cry Room
Best Element: Airtight songwriting
Band e-mail: email@example.com
Art rock is usually a sloppy, pretentious affair- a metaphorical finger to the establishment of commercialized music. But what happens when the crisp, punctual precision of indie bands like The Decemberists and The Shins hits an art-rock band?
The Cry Room happens. Alternating between an airtight indie-rock style and an equally airtight art-rock style, they straddle the line between pretentiousness and earnestness. When listening to straight-up emotional indie songs like “Plane” and “The Runs”, it’s hard to think of the Cry Room as anything but an indie band- they play the style with such bravado, such honesty, and such intimidating security that it’s almost unbelievable. The vocals give the music its security, as Chris Gillis has a voice that he is extremely comfortable with- he knows exactly where his range starts and stops, and exactly how long his breath will hold. His tone is beautiful, and his overall performance throughout the album is stellar. You will have your breath taken away multiple times by his vocal performance alone. If he were the only good thing about the band, the band would still be decent.
But Gillis isn’t the only amazing thing about this band- the music is brilliant as well. When listening to “The Axehead Floateth” or “The Clock Ticking”, the unconventional song structures, unusual riffs, and the intense focus on the groove of the song directs the listener towards the conclusion that The Cry Room is simply an art-rock band- a band this good at art rock can’t be capable of excelling at other genres too. That just wouldn’t be fair to the rest of those who can’t even excel in one genre (or for that matter, have no musical skill).The chemistry between the instruments is phenomenal- at times the piano and the guitars melt into one sound, and it’s impossible to tell where one ends and one stops. The only time the bass sticks out is when they want it to- but if you listen to it, you’ll find that the bass lines are actually pretty complicated in places. The drums? They accentuate perfectly. The drummer knows when to stop playing (and in knowing drummers, I have found that this is a hard skill for drummers to gain).
“The Axehead Floateth” is a lesson in art-rock, from the spot-perfect use of samples (vocal samples fill this album, but unless you’re looking at it objectively, you’ll hardly notice- that’s how well they’re used) to the build and release of tension to the unusual use of guitar noises. The spoken-word section in the middle is one of the more moving passages of music I’ve heard in a long time.
The Cry Room is the standard bearer for the new wave of art-rockers. This album is the proof.