March 02, 2005

The 101 "Green Street"

Eric Richter has fronted some pretty awesome bands. His first group, Christie Front Drive, have become well-respected in the years since their quiet demise, and during their lifetime they were the inspiration for a young Jimmy Eat World (which might not mean much to you, dear readers, but work with me here). They broke up, and Richter went on to form Antartica, which rejected anything and everything ‘rock’ minded for a cold, distant electronica that owed a great deal to Aphex Twin, New Order and that whole ‘post-punk’ era of the early 1980s. His new project, The 101, continues the trend of being absolutely different than everything that came before it; having released a too-brief EP that hinted at good things to come, Green Street delivers on that record’s promise…and then some.

Suffice to say, this new style sounds a lot like REM. It sounds like REM a lot. That’s not a bad thing, though, because Richter and company are accomplished, talented musicians, and their rough jangle doesn’t sound derivative at all. Sure, songs like “Wife” and “Verve” might sound a little too much like vintage Michael Stipe, but if there’s anything positive to be said about that is that it’s good that people recognize the brilliance of early REM. The 101’s have a really good understanding of REM’s secret formula, and an even better concept of what makes a great-sounding song.

The only complaint, though, is the occasional tendency of the band to go for a ‘modern rock’ style. “Left On” sounds a little too much like REM-meets-EMO for my taste. “Never In” initially sounds like a rejected outtake from The OC and “Generals” blends the occasionally annoying modern-rock style that pops up here and there with Antartica’s cold, electronic heartbeat. Maybe that’s just the Christie Front Drive influence coming out, though. It’s only a minor quibble, though, because Green Street is a surprisingly good record. Give these guys a spin and you’ll be impressed with what you hear.

--Joseph Kyle

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