August 22, 2006
SNOWDEN [I]ANTI-ANTI[/I] REVIEW
Snowden have played up and down the seaboard so often they're mistaken for New Yawkers. Led by singer/songwriter Jeff Jeffares, the Atlanta four-piece mopes as cool as any number of Gotham brooders, and you don't need Interpol to know which way the gloom blows. There's even a round or two of throat-rent Casablancas on the surprisingly romantic "Stop Your Bleeding", while "Black Eyes" leaves something uptown, as drummer Chandler Rentz pounds dark and pensive. True, if dudes were actually NYC men they'd be copping This Heat by now, but that, along with crisply efficient songcraft, is Snowden's secret.
Their name may come from Joseph Heller's famously satirical Catch-22, and their record may be called Anti-Anti, but Snowden's full-length debut is as flat-out passionate as you used to expect from Jade Tree. The title track is the manifesto, unabashedly enjoying its catchy/dumb intro and guitar smolder in a way that pleasantly betrays its origins far from the potentially stultifying self-consciousness of the only city that really matters, even as it bitterly mocks your "fashion drugs" and too-cool silence. "One time we believed, but now it's passing and cliché," Jeffares' deep voice tells me, "And she'll say anything to make you move again." Fuzz-bass-smoked "Between the Rent and Me" cuts closer: "What do you think I am/ Or do you think at all?"
The haunting chill that pervades such easeful deaths as "My Murmuring Darling", the arms-crossed stomp that distances dance-rock revival revivifications like "Black Eyes"-- they're just an enjoyable front, see, like Orr's stupidity in Catch-22. Pretty soon guitars cry out for grease and Jeffares cries out for change and before proper cynicism can be mustered for a track called "Kill the Power" it turns out, shit, dude's been getting all political. When Anti-Anti isn't calling a poseur a poseur, it's just as likely to call a bloodthirsty motherfucker a bloodthirsty motherfucker. Slow, harmony-bloodied "Victim Card": "We've been losing for quite some time now/ Across desert sands and across the land." Elsewhere, nervous head-nodders could easily miss "the only thing to fear," as told on TV in paranoid "Counterfeit Rules".
Everybody knows that bashing Bush and/or hipsters is the surest ways to boost page views, but Anti-Anti isn't that obvious, and Snowden don't stop there. If the album's dour dance party eventually grows a tad monotonous, finale "Sisters" spells out a different direction, all squeaky frets, lo-fi hiss, and double-tracked falsetto, like Jeff Buckley fronting XO-era Elliott Smith. "So many ways to break a man/ And one is not to touch him at all," Jeffares moans. The original Snowden taught Yossarian that man is matter-- kill us and we're dead. It's OK for stylish post-punk to matter, too, and Anti-Anti does so without forgetting to be fun.
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