Released: Sep 17, 2007
Genre: Noise Rock / Psychedelic Rock / Post-punk Revival
Label: Killer Pimp
Number Of Tracks: 10
It is the self-titled first album from psychedelic rock band A Place to Bury Strangers. Most of the songs were recorded between 2004 and 2006 and released as series of ad hoc EPs and sold at shows.
A Place To Bury Strangers
toyboxmonster, on march 17, 2009 1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Sound: Space-Rock/Noise-Pop trio A Place To Bury Strangers have been known as "the loudest band in New York", and their very first full-length record does a good job of living up to their title. Every track from the first to the last is bathed in walls of sonic mayhem recalling the feedback-laced compositions of My Bloody Valentine and The Jesus and Mary Chain. Unlike several noise outfits, A Place To Bury Strangers delivers their chaos in carefully calculated, accessible pop structures. Backed by an solid rhythm section, frontman Oliver Ackermann is free to unleash the full potential of his own Death by Audio effects without compromising the appeal of the songs. However, the presence of a single guitarist means that several of A Place To Bury Strangers' songs resemble each-other in their stripped-down linearity. This record isn't so much a concise album as a pell-mell collection of songs written during different time periods, and this is painfully apparent in the tremendous shift in style from one track to another. Expanding into a four-piece band could open new avenues of sonic experimentation to this group. // 8
Lyrics: It's hard to write about Oliver Ackermann's lyrical and vocal approach without mentionning The Jesus And Mary Chain. Ackermann's low, menacing deadpan tones are almost identical to those of JAMC frontman Jim Reid, as are his cathartic, angsty lyrics. The result is a very dark, brooding take on 80's shoegazing that makes them much less versatile than bands like Ride and Slowdive. A Place To Bury Strangers may be more innovative sonically than many modern musical groups, but their adherence to themes of pop-minded angst places them next to more mainstream acts such as Nine Inch Nails and Evanescence in terms of audience, and possibly even in terms of lifespan. // 6
Overall Impression: Sonically, A Place To Bury Strangers is most comparable to 80's noise-pop bands Spacemen 3, My Bloody Valentine, and The Jesus And Mary Chain, but what their music lacks is the versatility and freedom to experiment displayed by these artists. The leaps in sound between songs is often disconcerting. "The Falling Sun" stands out as the most innovative and transcendent track on the record, and sounds as if it were written several hundred years from now with it's organic, strain- like structure and hypnotic, monolithic beat. In contrast, tracks like "Another Step Away" and "Breathe" are simply pop songs with fuzzy guitar, and recall a at their tamest rather than the frantic mayhem that the band is hailed for. Most songs on the album fall between these two extemes; most are creative and unusual in sound, but none but "The Falling Sun" she'd thoroughly pop structures in favour of a more personal, abstract form. Considering this technically isn't even the band's true debut, it is an impressive start and demonstrates the potential that the band could achieve by widening their vision a litte. // 9
A Place To Bury Strangers
Tombe, on september 16, 2009 1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Sound: Ah, the abrasively distorted guitars, metronomic drums and sleazy, reverb-drenched vocals - it's almost as if Psychocandy-era Jesus And Mary Chain had never gone away. Even some of the song titles (Don't Think Lover, To Fix The Gash In Your Head) bear a bit of a whiff of the brothers Reid about them.
But it would be unfair to brand A Place To Bury Strangers as Jesus And Mary Chain rip-offs, and I have to confess to not understanding the My Bloody Valentine comparisons. Whilst the walls of extreme distortion are present and correct, whilst MBV bore into the heart and the mind, APTBS go straight for the jugular vein. They can best be summed up by the fact that singer/guitarist Oliver Ackermann formed his own effects pedal company, Death By Audio, because he couldn't get the sounds he wanted from pedals available on the mass market. They are the definition of a 'power trio' and currently hold the accolade of being one of the world's loudest bands.
Their debut may be culled from a collection of demos rather than being a cohesive album, but I can't think of an album from the past few years that's had such a flawless run of opening tracks. 'Missing You' doesn't mess around, kicking the album off with an almighty burst of distortion and white noise, before settling into a Joy Division-esque groove topped with spiralling clean guitar lines, kicking back into bruising power chords in the chorus. 'Don't Think Lover' is similar, a restrained verse and refrain with an insanely distorted riff kicking in between each. 'To Fix The Gash In Your Head' is an abrasive listen, a furious melting pot of industrial synths, abused Fender Jaguars and metronomic drum machines, and 'The Falling Sun' is a deliriously beautiful ballad with a disjoined vocal and languidly wailing guitar floating over a bubbling synth bass, undulating noise and chest-shaking drums. Elsewhere, 'I Know I'll See You' is minimalistic but infernally catchy and 'Ocean' sounds like a punk version of Spiritualised. Fantastic stuff. // 10
Lyrics: As is the shoegazing tradition, the vocals are low in the mix and drenched in reverb, which is a shame because Oliver Ackermann has the Jim Reid/Ian Curtis-esque baritone drawl down to a tee. As a lyricist, he occasionally slips into cliche and stereotype ("Don't think, lover" obviously rhymes with "Love lasts forever") but it never stops the vocals being effective - a highlight once again is 'To Fix The Gash In Your Head', a damning indictment of a former lover delivered with barely concealed venom - "I want to beat you up/I don't care, I won't feel hollow". 'The Falling Sun's tale of a failing relationship is complemented brilliantly by the ghostly are-they-there-or-not backing vocals and Ackermann singing as though he's suffering from a monumental hangover. I know vocals aren't necessarily the most important aspect of shoegazing but it's nice to hear them done well for a change. // 9
Overall Impression: Like the two pinnacles of the noise-shoegaze-dream-pop subgenre, My Bloody Valentine'sLoveless and The Jesus And Mary Chain'sPsychocandy, on first listen this album sounds like little more than a horrific wall of noise but as you listen to it more and more it begins to make sense and you see the beauty beneath the chaos. On the eve of APTBS's second album being released, I have to concur that their debut is one of my favourite albums of the decade. In the days of 'indie' going the way of Radio 1 playlisting, over-production and 'mainstream crossover appeal' and having its reputation ruined by truly awful bands such as Razorlight it's refreshing to hear a band with punk attitude in their music. I'm sure APTBS don't care that most people will turn the album off after 30 seconds of abrasive distortion and feedback. It's an album with a consistent sound, yet one that is varied throughout, and hopefully given time it will be recognised as a great album. So many have tried to copy My Bloody Valentine and The Jesus And Mary Chain but APTBS are the first band not to completely miss the point - Black Rebel Motorcycle who? // 10