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The Curtains - Calamity

Released on Asthmatic Kitty Records, 10/24/06

This album sure does make me uncomfortable. Iím not sure what it is. Perhaps the sneaky flats thrown into a routine pop progression, or the jarring yet certain lo-fi approach taken to the recording. The flash flood stops and starts. The seemingly nonsensical guitar and keyboard insertions. Heck. The vocals. Period. The Curtainsí latest release, Calamity may be just that, but in one of the best ways possible. Itís interesting. Itís weird. And it leaps and bounds above the majority of music being pumped into the ears of the youth of today. Hoorah Curtains! You are interesting!

What does an interesting band need? An interesting story! We are in luck. The band, started by Chris Cohen in 2000, has been through a lot: line-up changes, sound changes, thematic shifts, competition from other projects coupled with threats to end it all. Cohen teamed up with a number of folks to create past releases (four to date) and with each record a different Curtain-y sound was born. From the short, instrumental bursts of Fast Talks (released in 2000 on Thin Wrist Recordings) to the true love of three players musical conversation, Flybys (released in 2003 also on Thin Wrist Recordings) to the full actualization of this love in vocalized verse and chorus fashion, Vehicles of Travel (Released in 2004 on Frenetic) Ė The Curtains have done some serious evolving over the years.

Everything makes more sense upon the discovery that Cohen is also in experimental epic pop group Deerhoof. This comes through in Calamity from time to time -- the random guitar lines, the jazzy changes and Ďriffageí, the at once soft and punchy percussion. The album is a real mash-up of simplicity and a what-de-f*ck complexity. The vocals are almost childlike, telling stories of tops spinning and strings disappearing, and each track clocks in at no longer than 3 minutes and 11 seconds. But there is a musicality about this whole album that leaves me shaking my head. Calamity is impressive to say the least. I look forward to the next progression. Hoorah Curtains!

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars