Antlers - Antlers
Record Label: Rorschach Records
Release Date: 2008
Everyone loves a good gimmick. Didn’t Sufjan Stevens set out to write an album about every one of the United States? And, even better: didn’t Annuals set out to play frisbee in every one of the United States? Antlers haven’t yet made any similar ridiculous statements but their attention-getter is in the presentation of their self-titled release. Not only is every song named after a different kind of tree, but the album artwork just looks like something that would sound really awesome. Since everybody in the world pretty much ditched the concept of album continuity, I’m totally stoked whenever I see somebody that still cares.
Alright, I know you can’t judge an album by its cover: I’ll even admit that the reason I picked Antlers in the first place was because I’ve been so impressed by the recent trend of one-word, The-neglecting indie rock groups that have been emerging recently (that format makes the title seem less pronounced, more undefined). No, my opinion of a group isn’t switched by the awesomeness of their name or the originality of their song titles, but these little artistic touches do serve to give an album that little extra something that makes it worth owning as opposed to downloading clips for an iPod playlist. Antlers is one of those bands that just, for some reason, works as a whole.
The group’s brand of bright and sunny mostly-instrumental rock (“White Fur,” "Catalpa," and “Water Tupelo” have some vocals, but they’re really just sentences repeated a few times) sounds like the happier counterpart to Darediablo’s Bedtime Stories. The clean guitar sound of Minus the Bear and Damiera leads tracks down poppy pathways paved by fuzzy low end and mathy percussion. It’s a great mix; the tone is jazzy but the spirit is totally indie.
Right from the start, the set blazes: “Bald Cypress” explodes with the type of distorted bassline that I would associate with fellow Virginia residents Majority Rule. The character and definition of these notes (as opposed to hidden and supportive as bass notes tend to be) really give the song its identity. We can chalk up a point to both good musicianship and good production.
Since the disc is less than half an hour long, I’m tempted to refer to it as an EP, but it doesn’t specify anywhere in the packaging whether or not Antlers consider this to be their full-length capacity; their other two "albums" are exactly the same way. Once it ends it has only just begun, and it feels like a bit of a tease. This stuff is totally creative, totally memorable, totally worthwhile; but you could totally fit all three albums on one burned CD. Moral of the story: We love you, Antlers, but make more music already!