Best Albums of 2014: #19 Cymbals Eat Guitars – LOSE

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This is about as punk rock as I get these days. Cymbals Eat Guitars falls somewhere between post-punk and something resembling emo. A friend of mine calls it “populist punk,” as in punk for the people and that couldn’t really sum up this band and this record any better. They’re fierce, yet melodic, conjuring up nostalgia for a band like At The Drive-In. There’s an alterna-rock vibe to it that makes a sound this heavy more accessible than you’d expect…

LOSE might as well describe what I do when I blast this record: Get lost…in Joseph D’Agostino’s nasty guitars and versatile vocals, or in Mat Miller’s power-drumming. The record opens with a track called “Jackson,” that puts the biggest fucking smile on my face. It’s balanced song-writing that sees chamber vocals layered over a gentle guitar strum and it builds into an explosion of energy. As the song goes on, D’Agostino’s voice seemingly gets gravelly and it pumps emotion into your ears. On “Laramie,” D’Agostino sings about his memories of a fallen friend and drops lyrical gems like “All alone with my strip mall memories/Chasing the chills I felt when I was eighteen.” It’s suburban poetry that manifests itself on an 8-minute track with three movements….like an opera made of concrete, that runs on 87 octane gasoline inside of a 92 red civic hatchback. The opera’s final act is a jam session into space, where the distortion hovers above everything.

These jam session segments are laden throughout LOSE and no moment is as memorable as on “Place Name,” where the Staten Island rockers just go OFF. It’s one of those showboat moments of rustic musical mastery like on Cloud Nothings’ “Wasted Days.” Pure shred and pounding on the drums with high pitched “oohs” and more distortion variations than I can keep up with, all culminating with a gaze-y guitar riff. This is kick-ass rock and roll and it’s highly advisable to take your speakers to eleven when you put it on.

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