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Monday, January 14, 2013

Agitpop - Open Season

Name:  Agitpop
Album(s): Open Season
Years: 1988
Style:  Garage Punk, Alternative
Similar Bands:  Dead Milkmen, Pavement, Early Soul Asylum
"One-Word" Review:  Aggressive Jangle Pop
Based Out Of:  
Poughkeepsie, NJ
Label: Twin Tone
 Open Season - Cover & Record
Open Season - Back & Record
Open Season (1988)
  1. Straight Through to Nashville2:57
  2. It Won’t be Long Now 2:49
  3. Getting Up to Go Down 3:17
  4. Top of the Stairs 2:25
  5. Three Boys and Space 2:31
  6. Memory-Go-Round 3:48 /
  7. Kick Back the Hands 1:53
  8. Stagnant 3:12
  9. Out to Pasture 2:25
  10. Without a Trace 2:28
  11. Girl but Not A Friend 2:30
  12. Inventor 2:32
Album Rating (1-10):  8.0

Members & Other Bands:  
Mark LaFalce – Drums, Percussion, Guitar, Vox
John deVries – Vox, Guitar, Clarinet, Various other instruments
Rick Crescini – Bass, Glockenspiel, Melodica
Albert Garzon - Producer, Piano
David Cook - Engineer
Harvey Sorgen -  Asst. Engineer, percussion
August Henrich - Photography
S. Millman - Harmonica

Unknownness:  I’ve never heard of this band, but the name alone denotes a certain trait I find in bands I like. I get the sense, from the name, that this is going to be pop music that is agitated. In other words, neurotic, angular pop music, which is what I strive to find. However, the cover gives the impression of a cold, jangle pop band with shoegazing / tedious music. It is stark, with organic, non crisp lines which suggest free-flowing music. If the cover were geometric, with cutting lines and angular shapes, the imagery would mesh with the band name, and I’m sure it would be a 9 or 10 rated album.

Album Review:
“Straight Through to Nashville” Begins with a bit of melodic jangle pop without much angular anticipated chord structure. The vocals are a bit rough, shouty, like Earlier David Pirner in Soul Asylum. A few guitar angles come in the bridge that is entirely too short-lived, because the preface a plodding, droning repetitive chorus. There is a harmonica added, theoretically, because the song references going to Nashville (by train?), but it seems a little out of place.
“It Won’t be Long Now” starts off like it can’t start off. Broken chords and repetitive, skipping like hooks make you feel like banging your head against a wall- in a good way. The melody of the verse seems to be disjoined from the music, as it is much catchier. The song eventually either finds its mark, or is persistent enough to force it’s melodic idea down your throat, and the song becomes a steady head nodding song with a lot of seemingly needless guitar work going on in the background.
"Getting Up to Go Down” has a nice steady pace to it. The guitars create a nice driving space for the vocals to glide up and down in their aggressive speak-singing. There is a nice adolescent aggression in the tone. The guitar hook that repeats over makes me think of “A Whole Lotta Love.” This is a fun, yet angry song, with some nice “broken notes” in the process.
“Top of the Stairs” begins with a folksy janglepop melody that reminds me of Dead Milkmen a lot, between the melody, instrumental production and vocal style. It is a downright campfire sing along with nasally not-quite-sung lead vocals.
“Three Boys and Space” begins with a wood block and bell pipe percussion. The vocals are more like a chant than anything else. This kind of feels like a stripped down Man Man demo before all the hoots and odd instruments are placed over top.
“Memory-Go-Round” starts off as a jangle pop melodic song. But then the chaos takes over, fuzzy production takes over and the simple melody is buried under a façade of anger chords. It is angular, one note chord, like, Gang Of Four, but there is more warmth here. The wood block and carnival strong man mallet bell are featured odd instrumentations in a couple of sections. But they share the stage in separate sections with the featured artist; the fuzzed out electric guitar.

“Kick Back the Hands” starts with a Violent Femmes-esq jazzy psycho jam freak out, which transitions into an offbeat tempo driving poppy song. Still, it comes in a bit punk with the aggressive vocals.
“Stagnant” has guitar feedback as the first sign of aggression, followed by a building gang of four like guitar chords and sparse yet driving drum beat. The vocals are quiet at the start, but the feeling that something is building continues to grow through out the song. Rather than explode into an ultra catchy & satisfying release, the song, instead, as true to the name, stays stagnant and resides in that ever building limbo without a foreseeable delivery. And it ends like a top teeters over from losing the momentum that kept it up.
“Out to Pasture” is a nice, fast, guitar paced aggressive pop song. The melody sways side to side in the verse. The bridge is an aggressive build that climaxes in a simple release, without a proper hook. The end of the song fades out with angular, disjointed chords played on top of each other.
“Without a Trace” has a weird synthetic cow effect repeating like an alarm over the song, which is somewhat distracting to the anthemic anger-ballad playing in the background. This song features a transition of the song winding/ breaking down, only to wake up and put itself back together. It feels like a work of art more than a straightforward song.
“Girl but Not A Friend” replaces the synth cow with a cowbell as the foreground, scene stealing, attention grabber. The song itself is another solid paced, driving pop song. The melody of the song, at times, reminds me of Soul Asylum’s song “Spinning;” especially when the chorus in the background joins repeating the lead vocals.
“Inventor” kicks off in true punk style with a fast driving drums and loud, aggressive guitars. It tires itself out after 30 seconds, and relaxes with a third speed drum beat, an array of triangle/bell sounds and a vocal style that was stolen and improved upon by pavement. The end of the song is a sloppy drum breakdown, followed by an album ending bold, Beatles “Day in the Life” like piano chord, as if to say, this has been our Sgt. Pepper.

Stand Out Track: Getting Up to Go Down

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