It should serve as no surprise to regular readers of this site
that i spend way too much time obsessing over music. It's what
i do. When i discovered Listen.com
i spent to much time wandering around that site. For the uninitiated,
Listen.com offers links to downloadable MP3's. What's great
is that you can search for a band, or you can search for things
that the editors of Listen.com think sound like a particular
I played with that "similar artists" box a lot. I read about,
downloaded, and listened to every band that the editors said
is "similar" to Cocteau Twins
(who are my main musical obsession).
Bethany Curve is one of the bands i discovered in this way.
I downloaded and enjoyed several songs from their MP3.com
page. It took me quite some time to track down this album by
the band, but it has certainly been worth it.
Bethany Curve are another one of those bands that are still
making melancholy and dreamy New Wave pop. They lean towards
the Lowlife and Joy Division side of the spectrum, that is,
more deep riffs and lots of distortion. This is fine by me.
Their sound involves layer upon layer of distorted guitar (there
are three guitarists in the band), thunderous tom heavy drumming,
and deeper male vocals buried in the general mix. The guitars
swirl around each other and the vocal melodies, while the drumming
provides a good solid anchor to prevent everything from totally
drifting away into the ether. Now, a band with such a sound
could be light and fluffy -- airy almost. Not so Bethany Curve
-- their layers are dense, and the speed of guitar delay and
chorus, the heavy drumming, and their use of minor chords put
a slightly darker spin on things. This is not light music for
sunny afternoons frolicking in the woods, but rather it is music
for a high speed drive through a rainy post-industrial wasteland.
Consider the first half of the album. Things start off with
Drag, a great intro tune. It is based on a tense bass
drone that builds nicely to an explosion of drums, cymbals,
and fuzzed-out guitars. The drumming seems nervous. The tension
fades into Temporary, in which deep vocals are layered
over guitars that echo like rain on the roof of your car. This
builds into a nice fast guitar drone with good drumming. The
song reminds me of early Echo And The Bunnymen. Next Bethany
Curve have a short ambient interlude of keyboard washes called
Carnyval Sweet, which transforms into Fold In The
Floor. This song is a wacky spaced out waltz from a darker
time that ends with the voice almost screaming over some really
This is a really nice sweep of music that builds tension from
the first note and then releases it through the frenetic energy
of Fold In The Floor. The rest of the album is a similar
ebb and flow of tension and release. But release never brings
joy, because the tension will be back.... It all makes for a
tense album, slightly unnerving, but not too much. (I think
that this implies a good use of minor chord changes.)
There is one other song that i specifically want to mention,
and that is Pool And The Shine. This song has guitars
that float and chime like something off of Victorialand.
This is a beautiful tune, and it is the album's standout track.
A moment of true relaxation and peacefulness in the tense world
of Bethany Curve.
I also should provide some warning about the albums weakest
track. It's not even that weak: it is a typical good rollicking
five minute Bethany Curve guitar number sandwiched in-between
6 minute stretches of guitar feedback. They call it Marasmus
and it is the seventeen minute album closer. It's a good song,
but it seems a little self-indulgant. And of course, the long
stretches of feedback would really annoy some people.
But it's only a little bit of annoyance at the end of an otherwise
lovely album. If you are a fan of melancholy new wave guitar
rock, then track this disc down.