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August 22, 2006

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Visiting Snowden's MySpace page, two things struck me immediately and made me smile. Under "influences" it says, "Everything. We're very impressionable." That and seeing among their visible (MySpace) friends indie popsters Of Montreal. It's not that there are pronounced similarities between the two bands, though both, in their own ways, produce catchy pop that is both highly accessible and unique, a rare combination. But the timbre of lead singer/songwriter Jordan Jeffares' voice is pleasantly like that of Kevin Barnes.

On the surface Anti-Anti (Jade Tree-Pedro The Lion, My Morning Jacket, Girls Against Boys, among others) could be mistaken for dance-rock, especially in terms of percussion with steady, often syncopated drum beats that relent throughout nearly every track and hypnotic, ambient guitar sounds and effects. But beneath the surface and hovering above the heavy reverb are emotive lyrics and vocals that range from tortured and dark to exuberant and hopeful. Some of the tracks on Anti-Anti were recorded by Erik Wofford (The Black Angels, Explosions in the Sky, My Morning Jacket) at Cacophony Recorders in Austin. Jeffares also recorded and mixed tracks for the record.

Snowden's sound has been compared to The Cure, Interpol, and many others. None of the comparisons quite work, but the kinds of sounds that evoke those comparisons are apparent throughout the record. Yet there is something about the combination of dark dance beats, droning, muscular guitars, and, at times, tragic vocals delivered without irony that is very difficult to categorize (or stop listening to!). Particularly infectious and hypnotic are slow rockers like track 3, My Murmuring Darling and track 9, Innocent Heathen. Like the more up tempo shoegaze dance rockers on the record, dance-like beats are prominent, yet the dark resignation in the vocals and ambient guitars combine so that the "slower" tracks are as likely to induce toe tapping and other bodily grooving about as the jumpiest tracks here.

Snowden, (named after the vital, tragic character in Joseph Heller's Catch-22), was formed in Atlanta. The rockers are: Chandler Rentz-drums, vocals, Corinne Lee-Bass, keys, vocals, David Payne-guitar, and Jordan Jeffares-guitars, keys, vocals. They are on tour now, coming to a city near you. With the whole thing drowned in (or swimming in) a sea of reverb, distortion and ethereal effects it is easy to see why some have referred to them as a shoegazer band. But with Anti-Anti, they have made serious strides in developing a sound and territory that is their own.

The Space Lab

Thomas Bell