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Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Crystal Skulls - Blocked Numbers

Name: Crystal Skulls
Album: Blocked Numbers
Year: 2005
Style: Indie
Similar Bands: Sea & Cake, Concretes, Decemberists, Walkmen, Robbers On High Street, Strokes
"One-Word" Review: Nonthreatening-Indie-Stroke-Pop
Based Out Of: Seattle, WA
Label: Suicide Squeeze
Blocked Numbers - Cover, Tray, CD
Blocked Numbers - Liner Noted, Back

Blocked Numbers (2005)
  1. Airport Motels 3:31
  2. Hussy 4:39
  3. Beat Me To It 3:43
  4. Every Little Bit 3:40
  5. Count Your Gold 2:50
  6. No Room For Change 3:31
  7. Weak Spot 3:49
  8. Hard Party 2:45
  9. Locked Down 2:55
  10. Away From Home 2:59
Album Rating (1-10): 7.5

Members & Other Bands:
Casey Foubert - Drums, Recording, Mixing (Seldom)
Yuuki Matthews - Bass (Seldom)
Ryan Phillips - Guitars
Christian Wargo - Vox (Danielson Family, Pedro the Lion, Fleet Foxes, Scientific)
TW Walsh - Mixing & Assistant Engineer
Ed Brooks - Mastering
Jesse Le Doux - Design

Unknown-ness: I've heard of the band before, but I've never heard them. I found the CD in a thrift store, and I loved the artwork, I had to know what it sounded like. From the artwork and band name, I imagine them to be a catchy, quirky indie band with some electronic elements.

Album Review: “Airport Motels” is jangly at first then it becomes a bit disjointed. The vocals are nasally, somewhat like the Decemberists. Over all, it is light and pleasantly, non- threateningly poppy. There is a bit of electro synth buried deep in the background that adds a feels of ELO.
“Hussy” is sung like a Robbers on High Street song, but not as competently sung. I was never a huge fan of the Walkmen’s vocal style, but it is sung more like them. The vocals flow over the music seemingly detached, and they cruise around at their own melodic whim. There is a slightly sly and mischievous mood set by the guitar melody coupled with the vocals.
“Beat Me To It” continues with the mischievous atmosphere with the keys short bouncy notes along with the ROHS style singing. There is a playground sing-song melody to his vocal delivery too.
“Every Little Bit” is a slowly building song that oscillates between two or three brief warbly sections of the same melody at different octaves. The same song structure can be compared to Ween’s “Push the Lil’ Daises.” But by the time the song reaches the chorus, the vocals draw comparison to a less aggressive Strokes.
“Count Your Gold” is not the rocking song I anticipated to come after the last song. Instead it is a medium tempo song that feels like it is dragging its feet. It gives the feeling that it too is slowly building, but the payoff is not fulfilling. Rather, the payoff is a light arrangement that caps the building, but is not memorable or relieving to reach.

“No Room For Change” does feel like it could be a Spoon song, but the vocals are not confident or dynamic enough to be even close to Britt Daniels. It is again sung like a ROHS song (who, in their own right, do sound a lot like Spoon at times)
“Weak Spot” feels like a light 70’s AOR single. It has the echoing three chord guitar on repetition, and straight up piano synth. The vocals are more of the Walkmen/ROHS style of singing, with the vocal melody not quite following the music, but they seem to have different wavelengths that compliment each other. The end of the song is highlighted by a melodica.
“Hard Party” is a quicker, jittery song, but still polite as all hell. It is a fun song, with an odd choice of production, where they opt for soft 70’s smoothness, rather than an edgier effect that could compliment the tempo more. But that is not to say it is a bad song; I happen to enjoy the bounce of the music, and I like how the vocals careen over the melody, here it is done well, to the point where you can really see, follow, and enjoy the music and vocals together.
“Locked Down” has a little harder edge, provided the heavier sound of the guitar, which brings the sound closer to the Dire Straits.
“Away From Home” is a slower groove, a bit like 70’s Kinks style, with a southern jug band feel. The tempo completely changes and becomes more urgent and as close to the Strokes as they are on the entire album with the last minute of the song.

Stand Out Track: Hard Party


1 comment:

  1. Just found this blog.... it's awesome!!

    I love Crystal Skulls though they can sometimes be repetitive. I seem to find this album everywhere and between me and my boyfriend, we somehow have 3 copies of this album.

    Crazy that this guy went onto Fleet Foxes fame.