Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Hooray for Cymbals Eat Guitars at Brighton Music Hall

It had been over two years since I had seen Cymbals Eat Guitars. At the time, the band stood out as one of the groups that were carrying the torch for 90’s indie rock bands like Pavement and Built to Spill. The same is true today except with their latest release, Lenses Alien, they are able to take a few steps out of the shadow of those two bands. The record presents a more mature group of musicians who have honed their craft and formulated a voice of their own. It is one of the standout records of 2011. It is also the reason I was so excited about catching their show on September 20th at Brighton Music Hall.

Beige were the first act to take the stage and they were nothing like what I was expecting. I remembered hearing a band by that name playing more straight forward songs that bordered on slowcore. What I got was a duo who were pitting synths against each other and creating interesting atmospheric music. They only briefly injected some guitar in the mix but it was mostly strange, droning songs. It wasn’t bad; it just wasn’t what I was expecting. When they layered the pieces together into a thick textural groove, their music was the most arresting.

Hooray for Earth proved to be an excellent opening act. Although they are based out of NYC, Boston is where it all started for the young up-and-comers so it was somewhat of a homecoming show. The group work best when they are combining strange, loud synths with raucous guitars and thunderous rhythms such as on the title track from their album, True Loves. Other upbeat songs such as “No Love” were able to successfully get the crowd moving. The male/female vocals of Noel Heroux and Jessica Zambri sounded as good as they do on record and Heroux’s guitar playing was surprisingly tight. I did find it odd that Zambri would seemingly disappear for a few songs but it didn’t detract from the overall performance.

Cymbals Eat Guitars are a serious force to be reckoned with. When performing live, they take the distortion and intensity of their songs to a whole new level. It is something that you need to witness because a recording can't quite capture it. Joe D’Agostino was once again able to prove that he is one of the most impressive guitarists in indie rock. The performance had him tearing solos to pieces, deconstructing songs into walls of abrasive noise, and screaming bloody murder on top of it all. The sprawling opening track, “Rifle Eyesight (Proper Name),” was the highlight of the set and perfectly showcases the bands unique strengths.

One of the most overlooked aspects of the band is keyboardist Brian Hamilton who serves as the bands secret weapon. He creates the perfect backdrop with layers of organ and other complimentary synth sounds. Coupled with the bouncy rhythm section on songs like “Definite Darkness” and “Wind Phoenix,” the group covers a wide dynamic range. After whipping the crowd into a frenzy with never-ending swells of tension, the band wound the set down with Lenses Alien closer “Gary Condit.” This is a band you do not want to miss on their next trip to Beantown. Make sure you give Lenses Alien a spin below and also check out this interview from Allston Pudding.

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