February 14, 2009

Thank You: "Terrible Two".

The Baltimore trio of Jeffrey McGrath, Michael Bouyoucas and Elke Wardlaw seems to spend the same amount of time other acts spend on practice and songwriting blowing whistles, beating cowbells and shouting over the ruckus – though tastefully so. The post-rock formula has certainly been applied to the band’s latest effort Terrible Two, although a refreshing twist of Haywardian drumming and yelps sharp enough to cut through even the most seasoned of CBGB’s early 80’s crowds ensures any post-punks a good enough time.

Perhaps the premier example of this unique sound is our opener “Empty Legs”, which pounds to life in a medley of toms and whistles, steadily chugging to a guitar crescendo and all at once thumping to completion.

Following closely behind it, in much the same fashion, is a slightly less intimidating, krautrock-infused track in “Embryo Imbroglio”. Both tunes go the extra mile in proclaiming an undying devotion to their prog and post-rock roots while simultaneously keeping them an arm’s-length away in order to plug an original – and much needed – take on the largely misrepresented post-rock subgenre into the indie machine.

“Self With Yourself” features some highly rhythmic staccato guitars and bass, as well as a kitschy organ interlude. “Pregnant Friends”, this reviewer’s favorite of the lot, jumps to life as vocals are born into a soupy mélange of organ and percussion before being "shushed" into a completely new chaos, as an electric guitar screeches in terror.

By the 5 minute-mark, we're simmering in the fat at the bottom of this calorific stew, and a chorus of garbled squeals slurps up what's left. Terrible Two closes with an atmospheric and improvisational dronefest of organs, symbols and soft tom hits, utilizing a dynamic urgency, which carries the track to interspersed points of climax. A playful, "Atrocity Exhibition"-esque beat captures the middle of the track, and an organ hum slowly bleeds over top. Imagine Pram without Cuckston, and you’re pretty close.

Our boys in Thank You have done one of the most over-saturated and under-productive subgenres a mighty favor with their release of Terrible Two on Chicago’s wonderful Thrill Jockey label; perhaps they should be more aptly named “You’re Welcome”.


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