October 20, 2006

CD Review: Spider Rockets - Ever After

I found the name of this band to be impossible to ignore. There is something about the way that the combination of the words "spider" and "rockets" roles off the tongue. Go ahead, say them together out loud, I'll wait.....

Now that you're back, don't you agree that there is something eminently agreeable, and just a little bit odd and dark about the this particular union? Anyway, seeing that band name combined with the stark cover art for Ever After, I knew I had to give it a listen. Unfortunately, the music isn't as nearly as likable as their name.

To their credit, I have liked the music a little more upon successive listens, but it still does not approach the level where I will find myself reaching for it all that often. I like what I perceive to be their goal of creating a dark edged, atmospheric rock sound. I just had a hard time connecting with them. Each time through the disk, I have gotten a little closer to actually liking it, but the curve is decreasing, and I suspect that I would have a better opinion of them if I had seen them live.

Have you ever listened to an album, whether you like it or not, and think that it would play better live? That is exactly the impression that I have with the Spider Rockets. There is an undeniable energy and latent rawness that tries to bust through in the production but is held back. T he live vibe may put them over the edge for me, but for now I will have to settle for the shiny circular disk as my mode of transport.

There are a few things that bug me about the production, the main, and most detrimental, obstacle is the mix. As I listen, it sounds like Helena Cos' vocals were just laid on top of the instruments suppressing them, pushing them down in the mix. It is a weird and slightly disconcerting sound. There does not seem to have been a strong effort to bring the two levels together. It's a shame, as there are some good riffs and atmospheric playing that would have been better had everyone been at the same level. The way the sounds are put together creates an invisible barrier between Helena and the rest of the band, as if this is primarily about her and the instruments are just sort of there for the ride. The other problem would probably have been negated by a better mix, that being the obvious use of effects on the vocals. On one hand, there is an interesting otherworldly quality, but not being blended that well just feels false.

A couple of songs to check out include the driving force of "Simple" and the straight up rock of "Something More." On the other hand there are number of clunkers like "What I Want," an annoyance of a song, and the butchering of The Beatles' "Helter Skelter." There is obvious talent here and I could see them becoming more than what I have witnessed here, but I just can't connect with them yet.

Bottomline. Not as bad as my initial reactions, but there is something about it, something intangible that just doesn't quite work for me. I really think that their live show could potentially win me over. Helena has a good voice, what I can discern from the effects, and the band has some decent riffs. We shall see what the future holds. This may be worth a spin through to get a taste of what could be.

Not Recommended.
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The CD is available at their website.


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