“There are enough new bands out there” and “There’s too much good music to keep up with” are two phrases that can best describe the current readout on the indie thermostat. Some bands are trying to amalgamate many genres — sometimes too many — which brings listeners such as myself to a point of constant indecision. Since the start of this year, Cold War Kids and Tapes ‘n Tapes have emerged from the underground to show us what happens when the adolescent emo sound embraces its quarter-life crisis. Combining dance, rock, ’80s music, and an acceptance that the Age of Hip is alive and well, the guitar/bass/drums rock-band springboard has officially transitioned into the guitar-bass-drums-keys-and-sometimes-synths lineup.
In the midst of this indie monsoon is Sound Team. The Texas-based sextet has released (on a major, no less) its debut LP, Movie Monster, after the impressive Work EP in 2005 and making a lot of heads turn at this year’s SXSW conference in March. The EP was just a teaser, it seems; as good as it is, Movie Monster has so much more going for it than the band members may have anticipated. Aside from the jolt that comes when launching into “Back in Town” after the locomotive steadiness of “TV Torso,” the album fluidly transfers from one song into the next. So fluidly, in fact, that it’s almost reminiscent of the cohesiveness of Interpol‘s debut, Turn on the Bright Lights, despite the fact that the albums sound nothing alike.
“Your Eyes Are Liars” is the strongest track, standing out for being unavoidably catchy. Bill Baird’s driving bass and singer Matt Oliver’s lyrical annunciation, which serves as a part of the sonic instrumentation through parts of the record, dance on top of Jordan Johns’s drums like overjoyed and intoxicated art-students on a Williamsburg rooftop. Whereas the quietness of “You’ve Never Lived a Day” may seem a fitting album closer in the way that Maximo Park perfected the send-off of A Certain Trigger with “Acrobat,” the final bombast that is “Handful of Billions” caps off Movie Monster with a harmonic climax. Put the record on repeat and you’ll notice that it flows right back into the opening. It’s so easy to get lost in it, spinning it several times in a row without snapping out of the induced trance. “Born to Please,” which follows the minute-and-change opener, is thick without ever dragging its feet and sets a tone for the following nine songs.
The apex is the album’s title track, an explosion of volatile rock that has been compressed, contained and quieted into a four-minute moog-and-bass muffle. Like an over-pumped tire or a teakettle about to scream, Oliver’s calm vocals allow release for the song’s grand digital rhythm. For a “new band” with a “good album,” the members of Sound Team have achieved their goal on Movie Monster by transcending that level of interest that tends to keep bands off the major-label radar. Though they’d fit in well with the indie labels, their induction into Capitol with a not-so-mainstream sound provides enough reason to keep an eye on them.
Streaming audio: http://www.myspace.com/soundteam