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LITERATURE

 » Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King's new novella questions mankind's ability to trust others.
[02.21.2011 by Bridget Doyle]

MUSIC

 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
[12.24.2010 by The LAS Staff]

MUSIC

 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
[11.04.2010 by Cory Tendering]

Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
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
The Charming Snakes
Ammunition
Dirtnap Records

Rating: 6.5/10 ?


May 9, 2005
Allow a brief rant:

Making music should be viewed as a privilege. Too many creators take for granted the opportunities out there - infinite juxtapositions of sound can be combined to harmonize or clash, elate or enrage, to affect one specific listener or many unintended souls.

Presently, there is an overabundance of bands and musicians jockeying for the same positions, preparing "creative" sounds that will allow them to be heard. Regardless of their intentions from the get-go, often these groups of players end up having their originality smudged somewhere between the practice space and the club venue doors. A prime example is the disco-beat indie bands that are currently attempting to take over the world.

The Charming Snakes aren't a disco-beat indie band, but they act as a case study. The quartet is an underground boy-girl-boy-girl formation with a totally cute name. The two main members, bassist Lacey Swain and singer/guitarist Ruben Mendez, are from Seattle, WA by way of Austin, TX - an independent rock pilgrimage if there ever was one.

The group plays basic rock band instruments - voices, electric guitar, electric bass, and drums - in a predictably typical garage rock manner. Slightly atypical is their sporadic usage of saxophone to stretch out and diversify some open-ended jam segments. They draw comparisons to The Gossip, The Raveonettes, The Ponys, and A Frames, but don't offer very much unique creativity or technical excellence to vault themselves past any of these groups. Anything that The Charming Snakes do has already been done already in some way.

Regardless, Ammunition is a debut with balls. A distorted boy-girl vocal dimension runs megaphone-style male hooting alongside riot grrl shouts and if nothing else will force you to respect the aggressive direction that The Charming Snakes are taking. Originally a duo consisting of only Swain, Mendez and a drum machine, the group has adjusted to the depth and detail that live drumming adds to the mix. Forceful and yet poppy slow punk beats set the 10-song effort into a beaten rhythmic path with additional percussion (mainly tambourine) to push the energy levels.

The group surges through moments like "Tracks That Lead" and "Desire," displaying a style that might be dubbed 'barnburner' for its harried tempos, siren song vocal harmonies, fuzzy bass guitar sound and overall dissonant feel. Surrounding these exciting slices of music are edgeless tracks like "Epic Jams" and "Teenage Kut Out" that sludge along and make The Charming Snakes seem no more potent than a local area bar band.

Ammunition owes its existence to any number of influences. If the band would have only been shaped more by their own internal style, perhaps we would be praising this as an album that leads more than it follows.

Reviewed by Josh Zanger
Joshua Ian Zanger, a native of rural Chicago, rocks many a world with his writing, style, and generally sweet aroma.

See other reviews by Josh Zanger

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