boston // battle house
April 23, 2011 § Leave a comment
I am so excited about this. We have an actual review of a relevant album by an excellent Boston band (all things I like) – Battle House‘s Some Sleep – written by someone who isn’t me!!! Everyone, meet Brian Rusnica, and pay attention to what he says…
Battle House’s first full length record shows growth and versatility from a band of experienced performers. Some Sleep is a fitting title for a record that unfolds like a long night’s worth of uneasy dreams.
From the technical side, Battle House is very much a band with multiple identities. Members switch instruments and draw upon diverse resumes that peek through at different points on the LP. The band locks briefly into a mode (two-guitars, guitar+synth, bass+loop pedal or two-drummers) before reforming in another configuration on the next track. Along the way, each personality shows prowess in creating big, dark post-rock with sharp and noisy counterpoints.
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Narrating each song are voices that rarely sound the same way twice. The vocals drift in and call out through deeply-shifted pitches and distorted effects. Opaque lyrics hint at the imperceptible wisdom of our own sub-conscious. And at the album’s most satisfying moments, the second half of “Speechwriter” and the swift blasts of “Quick, Change Everything”, the vocal effects fall away and reveal stirring performances standing on their own.
The resulting album unfurls like one dream after another; replayed and distorted experiences create new, sometimes bizarre narratives. There’s a familiarity of reference, here in terms of sounds, voices and melody. But as the dreams go on, things aren’t put together quite how you’d expect. The letters are written backwards, the colors are all wrong, or you find recognizable faces in the wrong place. And by the time you’ve started to figure it all out, you’ve already woken up.
There’s a definite attention paid to keeping this album from sticking too closely to any particular convention. Most of Some Sleep is delivered at a more deliberate pace and through a thicker haze than Battle House showed in their 2009 self-recorded debut EP. Long instrumental sequences (yes, some are dream-like!) allow for meditation and give more impact to the less-frequent outbursts of vigor and edge.
The band’s neural circuitry on display in Some Sleep shows skill in every different mode. Like dreams, some songs are more memorable and captivating than others. The band’s successes on this record easily place them in the upper reaches of Boston’s current crop of bands that attempt unconventional rock music.
Available on 12″ here
Playing a show at TT the Bear’s with Thief Thief, The Big Big Bucks and Four Eyes on May 31.