If Katrina Ford’s name sounds familiar, it’s not because of the past fifteen years she’s spent toiling around the indie underground, performing in such bands as Jaks, Love Life and Birdland alongside her multi-instrumentalist husband Sean Antanaitis. And it’s not because she’s gained notoriety by projecting this year’s closest vocal approximation to PJ Harvey in her latest project, Celebration. Katrina Ford’s name sounds familiar because of her guest vocals on TV on the Radio’s "Staring at the Sun." Simple as that.
But who’s complaining about associating with Brooklyn’s hippest and artiest band, especially when TV on the Radio’s David Andrew Sitek introduces you to the people at 4AD, who make you labelmates with back catalogs from the Birthday Party, Bauhaus and the Pixies? Sitek also handles the production duties for Celebration’s self-titled debut by giving miniscule hints of his own band’s sound – Sitek’s guest guitar work on "Holiday" and the opening shuffled drum track to "Stars" – while maintaining an aesthetic that prevents Celebration from ever feeling like a TV on the Radio side project. Sitek’s bandmates do, however, make guest spots throughout the record: Tunde Adebimpe, Kyp Malone, Jaleel Bunton and Gerard Smith (no Robert Lowe, though) all lend vocals to "Good Ship."
Celebration is as theatrical as it is guttural, with Ford’s voice bellowing above cabaret-style organs, sharp guitars and loose, spiraling drum riffs. When she yells, "Got more guns than anybody" on the record’s opening track, "War," she announces herself as a powerful presence, hungry for the recognition she’s long deserved as a performer. With such tracks as "Foxes" and "New Skin" she flexes her range, going from moments of restraint to a full-blown caterwaul all while Antanaitis’s overwhelming guitars and David Bergander’s spastic drumming threaten to tear the track apart. Antanaitis, her musical counterpart since high school, complements Ford in the spotlight by playing nearly every instrument on the album aside from the drums, including a guitorgan (an organ that produces the sound of a guitar).
By shattering through spot-the-influence rock, Celebration should sweep into its own echelon among bands that are refusing to follow musical trends. And it never hurts to get a little help from your friends along the way.
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