Tuesday, January 8, 2008

The 20 Best Albums of 2007 - A Place to Bury Strangers: "A Place to Bury Strangers"

3.  Making noise isn't the hardest thing to do. Any schmuck with an effects pedal can fashion themselves some grimey guitar sludge and call it "noise rock" or whatever suits their fancy, but only the most meticulous craftsmen have the talent to make real melodies from such cacophonous elements (please refer to Sheilds, Kevin in your textbooks for more information). One such savant is Oliver Ackerman, the frontman for New York trio A Place to Bury Strangers, who spends his days creating custom hand-wired effects pedals for many notable bands, including: Wilco, Spoon, TV on the Radio and Serena-Maneesh. Thankfully, Ackerman doesn't waste all his talent helping other bands sound good, as his band's self-titled debut proves the man is more than capable of producing his own flirtations with greatness.

In the typical parlance of our time it is easy to describe APTBS's music as "shoegaze", since much of it owes a great debt to the Jesus and Mary Chain, My Bloody Valentine and Slowdive, but such an arbitrary label would miss the entire picture. While the opener "Missing You", "Don't Think Lover" and "Breathe" all perfectly capture the sound of those aforementioned artists, APTBS also manages to incorporate influences from other pioneering noisemakers. On "She Dies" Ackerman and drummer Jay Space create a sound reminiscent of Pornography-era Cure, while on album closer "The Ocean" the resemblance to New Order circa Movement is uncanny. There's even a hint of pre-industrial Ministry found in their use of drum machines sprinkled throughout the album.

But these musical signatures would mean nothing if APTBS couldn't write a good song; which, it turns out, they can with quite aplomb.  "To Fix the Gash in Your Head" and "I Know I'll See You" might be two of the catchier songs you'll find on the same album all year. Both confirm what the rest of the album suggests, which is that ear-splitting noise is just as capable of producing beautiful melodies as anything else.

No comments: