Monday, June 24, 2013

Kylesa: Ultraviolet (2013)


The first time I heard the Pixies was at the end of Fight Club, and I didn’t find out the band’s name until about a year later. In other words, I was barely aware that there was such a thing as indie rock in the 90’s. Growing up in a tiny town in northeast Nebraska, I didn’t know anyone who listened to it, although I suspect my hipster cousin (who went to school in the nearby tiny city) was probably aware of it. Hell, I’m still barely aware of what indie rock is. I’ve listened to The Mountain Goats and sometimes hear whatever indie band-of-the-moment is on Letterman or some TV commercial, but that’s about it. I think Coldplay might have something to do with this conversation, but I don’t know. If you do know, and you think the references I’m making are completely off base, then all the better.

When people say that the Kylesa of today sounds like 90’s indie rock, I have only the vaguest idea what that means. It sounds right from what very little I’ve heard, but my exploring that angle would be disingenuous, asinine, and a complete waste of time. Instead, I’ll just say that I love the new Kylesa. They’re not the best metal band out there, but they are certainly one of the most unique and interesting.

A more useful thing for me to say is that there’s a common thread between Kylesa and Ides of Gemini, a band sometimes described as dream-sludge. About two-thirds of the record is a lot like that. It’s still heavy, with no shortage of bass, but the guitars are almost as likely to use an effect that makes them sound like they’re underwater as to use the traditional gain. Laura Pleasants’s voice is mellow and distant. Psychedelic electronics, echo effects, and spiraling riffs add to the fugue-like sensation of Ultraviolet. Even the dreamiest songs have their metal parts, though, and cuts like the old-school Kylesa sludge of “Exhale,” the punky “We’re Taking This,” or the COC-esque “Grounded” break the dream up into digestible episodes.

Ultraviolet is where Boris’s Heavy Rocks and Attention Please meet and make little babies to dwell in the tidepools by the Atlantic. I’m just thinking, though, that maybe with the direction they’ve gone, the dual-drummer setup has outlived its usefulness.

The Verdict: 4 out of 5 stars

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