Cymbals Eat Guitars
5 January 2012
One strain of American rock that’s never quite made a successful translation into British music is the sub genre known, in typically contradictory fashion, as ‘slacker rock’: superficially loose yet nerdily exacting, hyper-literate yet loving to play dumb, boisterously poppy yet with guitars always a smidge out of tune.
Staten Island band Cymbals Eat Guitars, who put out their second album Lenses Alien last August, have added their own generation’s angsty inflections to a marginal update on the suburban slacker sound, so instead of slouchy Gen-X ennui, their live performance ripples with the muscular professionalism of a small town band with its eye on the prize.
Singer Joe D’Agostino switches from a sing to a scream, with not so much the geek-goes-postal attitude of Stephen Malkmus as with the gelled finesse of Dave Grohl, while keys, bass and drums provide a heavyweight backdrop like a houseful of Modest Mice.
Clever, unpredictable songs with clever, cryptic lyrics don’t always register in a noisy low-ceilinged room, but the dedicated air-punchers at the front suggest that CEG’s killer tour schedule and word-of-blog buzz is paying off, little by little. Recession era music, eh? Even the slackers are working too hard.