Occasionally a band, usually unnoticed at first, is able to cross-pollinate genres and create something quite spectacular. For American bands, there has never been a better time than now for such an achievement. Tangling influences into a creation that continues along the threads of bands such as Fugazi and Jesus and Mary Chain, dipping off easily into tangents that U2 and the Stone Roses explored, Kentucky's Your Black Star might be the band to spark American indie-rock's true resurgence.[more:]
There have been sure signs that America has the bands to respond to the European wave that has infiltrated our shores -- I Love You But I've Chosen Darkness, Cities, and Snowden have produced some of the best and most layered records of the past few years, all without playing too many of the cards dealt to them by European counterparts. Throughout the interwoven pieces there has always been that central focus that is very American, the sounds we first visited in Archers of Loaf, Elliot, American Football and Pavement records.
Sound From the Ground's main strength is that it is in no rush, confidently structuring the pieces into the controlled chaos of delay-happy guitars, big drums, dirty bass (played on the record by ex-Elliot member Kevin Ratterman, who has since left the band to pursue other musical avenues) and the secure vocal style. Your Black Star incorporates those big '80s guitars with a post-apocalyptic recklessness. "The Gauze Above the Lights" builds into a dark, epic ending, taking elements of the Cure and filtering them through dirty amplifiers. "Strings" starts off with staccato hits sifted through a delay pedal before flowing into U2-inspired madness. An undeniable youthful energy pulses through all the careful planning and powerful craftsmanship.
Having already made an impression with Sound From the Ground in Japan, Australia and the United Kingdom, toured worldwide with bands such as Elliot, Japan's Drum:kan, and the New Pornographers, Your Black Star emits a confidence that shouldn't exist on a band's first full-length. Darkness is explored but, overall, hope is the most lasting emotion on Sound From the Ground. "Oh Jesus" is a perfect example of the band examining the shadows without falling prey to their pessimism.
Often when I get nostalgic, it's for English bands. But with Sound From the Ground, I remember those emotions that American bands such as Sunny Day Real Estate inspired within me. The music of Your Black Star never gets lost in my memories, though; the band members create their own soundscape, and in Sound From the Ground, they have crafted one of my favorite records of 2006.
***"Oh Jesus" MP3: http://www.wonkavisionmagazine.com/ohjesus.mp3
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