CRYSTAL ANTLERS – TENTACLES (TOUCH AND GO, 2009)

About 10 people and I saw the Crystal Antlers play an amazing set last November at Kilby Court. While the set was amazing it was a pretty strange situation. Local tween pop band Kid Theodore for some reason was scheduled to play their album release show that night while opening for the Crystal Antlers. I got there right as Kid Theodore finished their set and witnessed strangest exodus of fans from a music venue; moms with their kids, clean cut striped polo t shirts, and high school Kilby Court-ians filed from The Court like rats swimming from a sinking ship. All that was left in its wake was a tall kid in basketball shoes with his short girlfriend, a well dressed hispanic family, and a few late 20 metal heads who were smoking cigarettes outside waiting for Kid Theodore to finish, their like, fifth encore. As the Crystal Antlers filed in the left over Kid Theodore crowd had no idea what they were getting into, the lead singer looked like Jack Black’s Mettallica worshipping little brother and a confidently strung out dude whose job in the band was apparently to dance and play fill in percussion,  by beating the crap out of a cowbell and tambourine. Needless to say within one minute of the Antlers glorious cacophony of swirling keyboards, virtuoso guitar lines, and Jefferey Bell’s gruff howl the crowd dwindled down to me, the metal heads, and the well dressed hispanic family. The Antlers know how to make a racket, and make it equally as ear shredding as listenable. What puts The Crystal Antlers head and shoulders above their garage/psychedelic peers is their fearless embrace of pop music. Carnival like keyboards pile on top of each other, face melting guitar riffs, and brutal percussion get thrown into a blender while Bell channels Conrad Keely’s Madonna era anguished howl/shout. Inexplicably, however, Tentacle never looses sight of its pop roots. As ferocious as things get the songs are all tethered to earth, instantly memorable and easily hummable. It is an amazing concept, while playing fast and reckless at speeds unsafe for any band they can still churn out great song in the traditional sense of the word. Tentacle is as fast as it is expansive and messy as it is polished, seriously recommended. 

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