One question that every critic has to ask themself
when reviewing an album is this: is the rating based on an absolute,
or on a personal scale? That is: when i say "This is the best
album of this year" do i mean "This is my favorite album so
far in 2002" or "There is no other album that is as influential/creative
released so far in 2002"?
It's hard, very hard sometimes, to tell the difference. Especially
when you REALLY REALLY like an album because it is a melange
of every sound you like in music. It might be THE BEST in it's
particular genre, but not very good overall in the sense of
"influential" or "forward-thinking". In those cases (very good,
but derivative) it is hard to know what to say.
My litmous test is to play the album for someone else (usually
Tracers) and see what they say.
My point here is this: i love this album. The Revolt
Against Tired Noises is my favorite album so far in
2002. The Stratford 4 combine noisy guitars, bored british-affected
vocals, powerful druming, guitar freakouts, catchy riffage,
and doleful female counter vocals into one existentially toe-tapping
disc. In all honesty, the album reminds me of The Pixies album
Doolittle in spirit and exectution, if not exactly
in sound. The sound, at times, is reminiscent of Ride, The Pixies
(there is a little bit in here, especially All Mistakes Were
Mine), The Fall (at times vocalist Chris Streng sounds a
lot like Mark E Smith), Sonic Youth (listen to the guitar freakout
in Window Open), and, well, there is probably a lot of
other stuff in there that i would need to think about.
And i love it. It rocks my world. I have listened to this album
almost constantly since i picked it up in March. it is the soundtrack
to my spring, and is spilling over into this already too hot
But is it really good, or does it just specifically push all
of my buttons? In order to answer this i played it for Tracers
while over at her place. Of the five or so CD's i brought over,
this was the only one to be played all the way through. In fact,
she even remarked that she liked it.
So, WE HAVE A WINNER! apparently this stuff is interesting
even beyond the specific shoegazer genre. That said, i am going
to slap a high rating on the album, and then rant for a few
minutes about the songs on the disc.
The masterpiece of the album is the amazingly catchy Hydroplane,
with a rhythm that most bands would kill for, and crunchy guitars
layered under masses of phase shifting and tremolo. My second
favorite on the disc is the slow-starting Windows Open,
which starts off almost as a dirge, builds for a few minutes
while slowly gathering steam, and then explodes in a good old-fashioned
guitar freakout, with vocalist Chris Streng screaming over the
wall of feedback, and the drums going like crazy!
You know, i could go on like this. I could rant at length how
the song Rebecca is a perfect love ballad to "a little
girl in black, who only i can see" (he hallucinates Goth Chicks?)
built around a wandering waltz rhythm and soaring guitar tremolo.
I could mention Displacer, another good rocking tune.
I could shut up so that you can get going to find your own
copy of this album. If you like guitar rock with lots of distortion,
then you really should pick this up.