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Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
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Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
»Deerhunter
Halcyon Digest
4AD
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
»Robyn
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Konichiwa
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Lisbon
Fat Possum
Atomiks
Motordeath
Slovenly Records

Rating: NR/10 ?


October 1, 2004
Ostensibly a rockabilly band on previous, now unavailable releases, The Atomiks weave a classic rock and roll feel on Motordeath with America's other timeless convention, the automobile. Oh, and death. So basically, it's a post-rockabilly album about cars and dying. As if there haven't been enough of those already this year.

But seriously: amid all the rock-is-back garbage America has been subjected to over the last two years, Motordeath is refreshingly modest about it's rather lived-in, honest rock 'n' roll sound. And there really is roll here, along with the rock, with the sort of backbeat that has been left behind by many rock bands. And the way The Atomiks blend elements of early rock and roll, from rockabilly to surf to British Invasion riffs, is done without the obnoxious hipster smirk of rock revivalists like Jon Spencer.

With a full rhythm section and few traces of country, however, this isn't a traditional rockabilly record, although the upright bass is a nice addition. The members of The Atomiks rock with a little more vigor, tearing it up on the title track and "Death In Cars." The band also tries on slower songs built around acoustic rhythms or even pastoral folk rock, as in "Carrie."

The lyrics in particular twist away from any sense of rock 'n' roll tradition. Lines like "You're a roller derby queen tonight/ Your temple is bought and sold/ By a face caught in the headlights" pop up throughout the record, and the weird religious references to saints and sins snake through the cars like a doomsday Bruce Springsteen who has given up all hope of ever escaping Jungleland.

Of course it's easy to hide a record review behind a lot of genre identifications and heady comparisons, but the truth is that with Motordeath the members of The Atomiks have crafted an unusual and enjoyable rock 'n' roll record that performs well on its own merits.

Reviewed by Erick Bieritz
Erick Bieritz lives in Chicago, where is usually either very hot or very cold. He was the brainchild behind EPMD, where he wrote about EPs and singles for LAS, looking for overlooked or underappreciated non-album releases.

See other reviews by Erick Bieritz

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