January 18, 2003

Desert City Soundtrack "(Contents of Distraction)"

Now this is different! Desert City Soundtrack could be accused of making pretty standard emo-rock, but they've decided to up the ante by adding a piano, and in so doing, have created a sound all their own. Everything you've come to know and loathe about Emo is here--the screamed vocals, the loud stop/starts, the traditional chord changes--but this little instrumental addition makes all the difference in the world. Maybe it's because a piano is a classy instrument--but methinks it's more because a piano adds depth to the standard guitar/bass/drum setup. Whatever the case may be, it certainly works, and it saves (Contents of Distraction) from falling into the genre-trap that emo has created.

(Contents of Distraction) is a helluva dark record, and for some reason, I'm really getting a Tori Amos-like vibe from it, too. "Emotional Post-Hardcore" was the term I've seen thrown about in describing them, but I'm thinking there's more of a "post-Goth" thing, because at times, I'm reminded of Nick Cave and Three Mile Pilot. Songs like "Carboard Hill" and "Widow's Staircase" are some pretty intense little numbers, and "Foglifter" is one of the most painfully beautiful songs I've heard in a very, very long time. About the only useless number on this is that untitled seventh track, which sounds like a collage of studio goofing off, and really isn't necessary at all. Maybe they're trying to lighten the mood? Could be, because the air in this room post-listening is pretty darn intense!

Desert City Soundtrack have raised the bar on their contemporarires, and thank goodness for that! This little EP is but a debut (!), which means that they've got plenty of time to make things even more interesting. As they go further and further away from the genres that we may try to bind them to, things can only get more interesting. An excellent debut, guys!

--Joseph Kyle

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