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Askew Review 15

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AMERICAN STEEL- Jagged Thoughts (Lookout) Imagine Bruce Springsteen playing punk-rock on Lookout Records. Still reading? Good. Ruairi's gravely vocals are reminiscent of Bob Mould (Husker Du-era) or Frankie Stubbs (Leatherface), albeit occasionally falling into self-aware theatricality. The lyrics are simple yet contain allusions and images so potent that the words take the shape of the objects they describe. Bad songs are few and mercifully short when you do encounter such a track. "New Religion Every Day's" creeping multi-tiered texture evokes the Pixies with its buildup and regression. "Rainy Day" goes from a mysterious bitter-sweet dreamworld in the verse to a straight ahead rock chorus, then descends back into a surreal atmospheric fog. "Two Crooks" incorporates a rock-steady beat behind fantastic lyrics which develop as a sort-of parable of realization around the theme of rumor and a woman being "trouble." Less than three minutes and at least three layers of meaning. "Turn it out" on the other hand has fairly forgettable lyrics, but features strong music with choppy waves of guitar harmonics and string-noise working against the punching rhythm section. All and all an original and welcome surprise straddling rock and roll and punk, coupled with a thoughtful underbelly.-Ryan McKay


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