July 22, 2004
SNOWDEN: ORGANIZATION MEN
“One of these days, I’m gonna get organized,” Travis Bickle muses throughout the film Taxi Driver. While Atlanta-based group Snowden might not boast Robert DeNiro in a starring role, it’s fun to picture vocalist Jordan Jeffares hunkered down in Travis’ scummy NYC apartment, on an unhinged solitary quest for discipline and purpose amid the human sickness surrounding him. “When I was in Athens writing all of the music, I did it alone, in my bedroom at night,” he says. Let’s hope he wasn’t also modifying guns and planning an assassination, but with song titles like “Kill the Power,” who knows?
Snowden’s reverberating post-shoegaze sound draws on usual influences The Cure, Interpol, My Bloody Valentine and Radiohead, but its music bears a striking resemblance to James, a great band largely misunderstood this side of the Atlantic who scored here with the ’90s alternative anthem “Laid.” “Kill The Power” would fit nicely alongside James’ Millionaires album, kicking off with a Stone Roses beat and featuring clanging guitars and keyboards that recall Brian Eno’s work with Heroes-era David Bowie, in the late ’70s. “One thing I take from James is the ?°»epic movie ending’ power some of those songs concluded with,” Jeffares says. “I rarely write about love or romance. I try to think about the human condition and how overdramatic we are.”
Jeffares started Snowden in hip music epicenter Athens, Ga. (home to REM, B-52’s, and the Elephant Six bands, to name a few), but a crushing breakup and disenfranchisement from the local scene caused him to relocate to nearby Atlanta. “The Athens scene is its own little world. It is very, very cliquey. If you’re a cute girl, you’re in instantly. You really have to have an ?°»in’ to be introduced to all of those people, then on top of that you have to have some really organic stuff to win them over,” he says. “They are very separate from Atlanta and they seem very proud of that. They support their own.”
(Hey, what’s the point of creating outsider art if you can’t be lonely, alienated, and pissed off about girls?)
Key to the group’s identity is Jeffares’ Billy Corgan-style benevolent dictatorship, -- writing, and in most cases recording and producing, the music on his own. In Atlanta, he recruited a series of musicians to perform the songs live. “It was tense in the beginning,” he says. “Some musicians accept it and just want to rock out. Others try to accept it and find out later that they are really unhappy being just a musician in the band and not a writer. I wrote all but one guitar riff of all the current stuff on my own. I really don’t enjoy working that way, but I have a very strong musical vision that doesn’t really allow for too much dissent.”
While Friday marks Snowden’s first Pittsburgh performance, the band currently enjoys considerable buzz in NYC and slots in CMJ top-30 lists at several college radio stations. “Lately we keep getting more eyes on us,” Jeffares says. “Everything is in New York.” Catch them now before they do a ton of pull-ups, go on a killing spree, rescue Jody Foster and become heroes. Be forewarned: Snowden’s getting organized.
Pittsburgh City Paper
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