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Blood on the Wall - Liferz

Released on Social Registry, 1/22/08

The nicest thing I can manage about Blood on the Wall is that the music sounds spontaneous. The third album from the Brooklyn three-piece begins with four stick clicks, an apt starter gun for three or four generations of basement-based punk rockers. The remainder of the song -- it's called "Hibernation" -- showcases all of the band's meager abilities: the apathetic vocals, scuzzy guitars, loudly played drums recorded softly. That's pretty much it.

Blood on the Wall toured with the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, which makes for a more interesting comparison. Honestly, I feel that the Yeah Yeah Yeahs do things most three pieces only dream of, from the thick-as-tar guitar to the unusual drum syncopations to the theater-filling banshee squall of Karen O's voice. Blood on the Wall fails in each of these categories.

On "Junkeee...Julieee..." the singer Brad Shanks misses every note, which wouldn't be such an ordeal if he sounded less like Elmo. He fares worse on "Acid Fight", which is build around repeatedly mumbling, "it's in my face/ it's in your face." Shanks' sister, the bassist Courtney, has a huskier, deeper voice than her brother. On "Lightning Song" she tries to sing soft, but is so far from singing she seems to be chatting over her bass.

Liferz especially falls short in sonics. The song "Sorry Sorry Sarah" begins with an out of tune, practice-amped guitar. When the band kicks in, the guitar moves around to a different speaker -- and it still sounds like crap. I'm all for DIY recording: I grew up watching high school kids create, record, and package their music at 924 Gilman St. in Berkeley. That was ten years ago. It concerns me when a bunch of hyped Brooklynites can't manage to sound as good as 13 and 14-year olds in the pre-MySpace epoch.

Maybe it's the rampant inexactness, or the nonchalant male/female vocals, but somehow the media lodges Blood on the Wall between Pavement and The Pixies and Sonic Youth on the noise-punk totem poll. I wouldn't dishonor the greats like that -- that would be like adding a Bush to Mt. Rushmore.

Rating: 1 out of 5 stars