Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Lower Dens - Twin-Hand Movement (2010)

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For all my fancy discovery stories, I really can't remember when and how I stumbled upon Lower Dens. Might've been LastFM, some random music magazine, or most likely NPR. What I do know is that whatever way it happened, I'm exceedingly glad it did. I've been sitting on the debut from the Baltimore band for awhile now but in honor of their upcoming gig as part of the Seaport Music Festival in New York City, I decided it was time to give the album my full attention.

Like Avi Buffalo, it's easy to see some of the song's titles and dismiss the band and it's music as childish and immature. Don't. If ever there was a time to give a band the benefit of the doubt; it's now, with Lower Dens. Their music is characterized by mostly instrumental rock grooves ("Holy Water") but also by hazy vocals that blend almost seamlessly into the instrumental framework.

Lower Dens have this affinity for spacious, vacuous tracks that somehow manage to bristle with rock-n-roll grit. It's this contradiction that makes Twin-Hand Movement such a pleasure to listen to. The songs are sparse and yet full of prickly guitar licks, dark and lonely yet surging with urgency and strong desire. It's fuzzy beach rock jangle obscured by rather dark everything else. The vocals are quiet and subdued but it's from them that the majority of the songs get their power. Lower Dens are masters of the art of understatement, entrancing you with their dynamic sense of quiet.

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