Cymbals Eat Guitars: Lenses Alien (Barsuk) | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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#37 – St. VincentCymbals Eat Guitars

Lenses Alien


Sep 13, 2011 #37 – St. Vincent Bookmark and Share

Cymbals Eat Guitars’ 2009 debut Why There Are Mountains foreshadowed a litany of indie bands mining the halcyon days of the ’90s for inspiration. Yet Cymbals were among the best of that class of acolytes. They hit up all the right touchstones—Pavement, Modest Mouse, and Wilco—and amalgamated them into something invigorating thanks to the band’s astounding command of dynamics and a truly charismatic frontman in Joseph D’Agostino. They tinker with their formula subtly on Lenses Alien, honing their sound with some help from producer John Agnello. But really, this is the sound of four individuals finding their footing as a band and songwriters.

The album kicks off with a fuse bomb of tension in “Rifle Eyesight (Proper Name).” It unveils a more sinister Cymbals, as keyboards wind their way around serpentine riffs, metamorphosing glacially into a psychedelic, molten jam session. “Shore Points” is a hypnotic rocker that benefits from some terrific keyboard flourishes, while “Keep Me Waiting” has an astounding My Bloody Valentine-esque phasing swirl at its intro.

“Another Tunguska” is a terrific mid-tempo rocker featuring hallucinogenic lyrics that read like prose from a Cormac McCarthy novel, as D’Agostino spits out in a rapid fire vomit spurt, “The skyline resets to a bare, hushed wilderness I worship the day of the invisible wave/then a stream of revenants surged outward like prominences from the sun/1927 an explosion another Tunguska.”

But what’s most impressive about Lenses Alien is that Cymbals Eat Guitars, after a couple of years on the road, sound like a band now instead of a recording project. They lock into grooves, fill in all the right spaces with instinctive backing vocals, and generally play off one another intuitively. And yeah, they still traverse one of the myriad roads paved by ’90s American indie, but their road is dark and post-apocalyptic and rife with fever dream imagery, and to paraphrase one of their idols, worthy of a long drive with nothing to think about. (

Author rating: 7/10

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