Autodrone is a four-piece shoegazery goth act from New York City. Or maybe they are gothy shoegaze. Either way, it is odd that they have found a home on Clairecords, all the way down in Florida.
Clairecords is one of my preferred labels, so i was curious to see what this new signing of theirs was all about. The first thing to come to mind when listening to Autodrone is the obvious comparison to another gothy shoegaze band, this one from Florida and on a NYC based label, namely Mira. I loved Mira, and it is great to hear a band doing that same sort of thing. Not to say that Autodrone are totally unoriginal, just that there is an obvious similarity of sound. All you Mira fans out there will want to take note.
The main similarity is in the strong female vocals. In Autodrone, we have one Katherine Kennedy. Her voice is rich and powerful, and she kind of speaks most of her lyrics. Add to this guitarwork that is best described as "wall of feedback" and some strong rhythms, and you have a pretty engaging product.
Autodrone tend to take the shoegaze part of their act pretty seriously. On Strike a Match there are three instrumental noise fests to keep the kids looking at their shoes. The first of these is called 100,000 Years of Revenge, and is like a My Bloody Valentine song without the melody. This is grating, punishing noise that is honestly unlike anything else on the record. Odd. The second noisy tune is called The Rose Has No Teeth, and is really just a short minute of feedback between two songs. Then there is Moth of July, which is not properly an instrumental in that Ms. Kennedy's voice is a tuneless howl buried under the drones. This song is six and half minutes long, and starts with a long keyboard drone before the bass and guitar join in. This is like the noisier moments of what Landing were doing on their last few records.
Those songs are not special, but neither are they terrible. I just think that the strength of Autodrone is better shown on the remaining nine songs on the record, and i think that perhaps the presence of these three songs (and particularly 100,000 Years of Revenge) will keep some people from enjoying this record as much as they might. I think that including these was an odd, and perhaps poor, choice by this band. For you see, when Autodrone attempt to make a catchy pop tune, they succeed.
Strike A Match and Sometime both show a Mira-ness to them. The rhythm section moves fast on both songs, almost falling over itself to keep the tunes moving forward. Meanwhile, Kennedy sings in a more laconic manner, her voice a calm anchor in the storm of rhythm, while the guitar whirrs along. Similarly, Can't Keep These is Garbage-y, with Kennedy singing through distortion and the guitar whirring along against the breakneck rhythms.
And then Autodrone get poppier, as on With Arms Raised, where they remind me of my beloved Magnapop. Here Kennedy channels Linda Hopper while guitarist Jeremy Alisauskas does a good Ruthie Morris impersonation. This is a nice tune, catchy and happy.
Two other tunes of note are Of Home which is nicely dramatic, building slowly to a good frenzy, Kennedy showing her vocal range to good effect; and Pictures, which ends the record with piano and distorted guitar backing Kennedy's voice. This is vaguely similar to Moth of July in feel.
This is a worthwhile debut, but i think that many listeners will hit 100,000 Years of Revenge and refuse to cooperate with its three minutes of punishment. That is a shame, as Autodrone have some good songs.