The Portland Phoenix
October 17 - 24, 2002
clubs by night |
bands in town |
club directory |
| jazz clubs |
pop concerts |
classical concerts |
jazz concerts |
hot links |
*** Skeleton Key
After a five-year break from recording, these crafty downtown Manhattan art-rock
noisemakers are back with their most interesting assault on pop songwriting.
The music is all jagged edges and percussive clatter, from the chiming and squawking
guitars to the pile of junkyard percussion that’s their trademark. And it’s so brisk
and tightly wound that the entire CD bristles with urgency.
That’s quite an accomplishment for numbers with lyrics that often take the hoky course
of demented nursery rhymes (“Once there was a man who stood/ He nailed his feet into the
wood”), but there’s a kind of thematic strategy at work. These tunes, from the demented
stomp “One Way, My Way” to the loping, dark rocker “Candy,” the Caligari blues of “The
Barker of Dupes,” and the surge-and-stop charge “King Know It All,” dip into the poisons
of arrogance and ignorance to spin brief character studies about slightly different
breeds of asshole. A concept album? A cynical view of humanity? Maybe, but literal
meaning is second to the insistent power of these 11 songs, which mostly clomp along
with juggernaut determination. The last track is the exception: a twisted lullaby
that could be a obsessive’s suicide note, with a ragged, strained vocal and accompaniment
so affected it seems as if it were being ripped from a time warp, the instruments
distorted into slow dark howls of sound.
— Ted Drozdowski
| home page |
what's new |
about the phoenix |
Copyright © 2002 The Phoenix Media/Communications Group. All rights reserved.