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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]
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The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
Halcyon Digest
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Fat Possum
Murder In The Red Barn
Get In Before The Rain
404 Records

Rating: NR/10 ?

October 1, 2004
Apparently there is some hype going around college radio stations these days about Murder In The Red Barn. Described in their press release as a "hard-working young outfit", Murder In The Red Barn consists of brothers Iasaaic and Josh Backes (guitars), Billy Zientara, Eric Maas (bass), and James David (drums). I'm guessing that this is the band's debut release.

Now, this "young outfit" has quite a press release. Just reading through the flier was getting me all excited to pop the CD in. I usually listen to the music as I read, but I was sidetracked at the time by the new Foo Fighters album. As Dave Grohl was pounding out a Queens of the Stone Age-inspired tune, I was reading about a "sinewy rock hybrid that fuses offbeat jazz time signatures with straightforward punk sensibilities." Oh boy… I tried to calm myself down by practicing breathing exercises. Blah, blah, blah… toured with the Paper Chase, Oxes (Booyeah!), and Haymarket Riot… Bob Weston of Shellac recorded the album! At this point I actually wondered if the press release was going do some terrible things to my image of the band. I mean, I understand 404 Records or whoever is only trying to hype me up for the release, and really, what more can they do other than spew forth loads of crap that doesn't interest me the slightest bit. After reading about the "teeth-clenching speed" of the song, "On Fish Road", which supposedly "mellows into a gentle dynamic, and at the end reveals the true power of fire", I decided that it would be best to eject Dave Grohl from the CD tray and give the Murder In the Red Barn a listen.

Get In Before The Rain starts out with some dark, repetitive guitars, some vocal mumblings in the background… the vocals and guitar start to become more prominent and the drums begin to fill out the song. All is well. Around one minute or so into "Cutthroats", I'm caught slightly off guard by the introduction of a saxophone. Hey, this stuff isn't bad! The mumbling continues as do the repetitious guitar and accompanying percussion. The saxophone solo begins to overpower the other instruments. Just when I'm starting to get a little tired of the sax, the band begins to get angry. A tirade of boisterous screams go on for a while and I start bobbing to the beat. These guys are getting me down! Suddenly a time change occurs and syncopating guitars start to make me forget all about the shitty press-release I just read. The track carries on for just over seven minutes and by its end, I decide this band might be on to something. The second track, entitled "They'll Need Me Alive", is another crafty, well-written song of about six and a half minutes in length.

About fifty minutes after I put on Get In Before The Rain, I've come to two conclusions. The first being that certain press releases can be misleading and poorly produced, which is something the band should be proud of (they are a lot better than I was expecting). The second conclusion is that this band would be all the better if they dropped the saxophone parts from their songs. I was not expecting a sax, let alone constant, monotonous measures throughout the album. The guys in this band clearly have talent, and I do not doubt that their music will get a lot better as time goes on, but if you can't handle a sax over odd time signatures and tempo changes a la Faraquet, then wait a while and see if Murder in the Red Barn can either drop the horns or learn to incorporate them as they gain more experience.

Reviewed by Matt Bendett

See other reviews by Matt Bendett



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