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Schoolyard Heroes
Fantastic Wounds
The Control Group

Like an updated version of The Cramps mixed with a more pronounced punk-rock ballad sound, Schoolyard Heroes nails atmosphere and energy in one fell swoop, creating gripping themes and following through with complex material that will probably never get the true credit it deserves.

The true inspiration this band provides is in their interplay with each other; every instrument, including voice, works over-time to produce a highly developed record with variations between songs and internal to each song that mystify me. Structuring of songs follows the chaos theory: very sporadic and all over the place, but viewed from afar, patterns arise which show an enlightened oversight. Ambiance rises from track one and is carried successfully across the album, showing dark lyrics with haunting backing that still packs a punch.

Production is the mesh, or in this case the fish-net, that interlocks all of the parts, astounding to no end how it achieves the impossible task of balancing the pieces as they turn on dimes several times within one song, let alone across the entire album. "Funeral Parlour Tricks" would be an example of the style and focus shifting at different moments, an amalgamation similar to Frankenstein's monster; patchwork, but whole and complete and still has power to grab you by the throat and let you know who is boss. As piecemeal as the record is, it is still viably coherent as a whole mainly due to the master work of the production.

But production can only get you so far without the talent to back it up. And this band has plenty. Leading the constancy of the album is the lead singer's voice; she adds a sort-of cupie-doll-with-teeth feel to songs, as well as stepping up and owning the material. Believe me, there is nothing like a female singer who can step up and belt out the lines, yet has enough Sauvé Fair to finesse the lighter side of the material, and "Panic In The Year Zero" is a perfect example of that. If the vocals are the constancy, the guitar is the meat and potatoes, delivering resounding lines that drive the material and vary the intensity nicely; one moment giving meaningful power chords, the next moving with an asynchronous line. The bass uses space appropriately, developing astute lines that emphasize relationships to the drums here and the guitar there, always keeping it interesting. The drums are simply amazing, using the whole set to carry out themes and energy with apt attention to detail. One specific thing I appreciated about the drummer was his use of the double-bass pedal; rarely have I heard a drummer use that technique without abusing the privilege, but here he accurately picks the correct points of forte' to bring it home and then seconds later, backs it off wisely to show his restraint."Centaur: Half-Man Half-Motorcycle" is all the more superior because of it.

Style-wise, this band will not be for everyone, but for those select few who appreciate the movement and atmosphere created here, they will find a technically judicious band that leads with good hooks and follows through with great substance to create an album that is wholly worth it, back to front.


Track listing:
1) Body Shots
2) Panic In The Year Zero
3) Serial Killers Know How To Party
4) Centaur: Half-Man Half-Motorcycle
5) They Live
6) Battlestar Anorexia
7) Nightmare At 20,000 Feet
8) Funeral Parlour Tricks
9) Nothing Cleanses Quite Like Fire
10) The Girl Who Was Born Without A Face

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