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Austin Sound - The Independent Music Source for Austin » Sound Reviews » The Distant Seconds - Spectral Evidence (Sweetheart Contract)

The Distant Seconds - Spectral Evidence (Sweetheart Contract)

By Marc Perlman • Jan 7th, 2009 • Category: Sound Reviews

The Distant Seconds: your arrival and your debut album – Spectral Evidence – is a blessing to ears, a welcome entry to the overwhelmed trough of band slop, and a really excellent piece of rock and roll. Finally, an Austin band and an Austin record that celebrates the past while rocking in the present; and not the stupid unnecessary we-wish-we-were-in-leather-pants style rocking, but urgent twitchy punch-you-in-the-throat rocking. So many bands try to pick and choose influences to create a sound that’ll cater to the whims of a demographic, but it feels like the Distant Seconds just wrapped their arms around the rock canon to play honestly great rock and roll. Equal parts hip, punk, and classic, the result feels like a missing piece of the rock and roll puzzle.

On Spectral Evidence, the sounds of Television, Pavement, and so many others are served up with a nod of respect and a punch of defiance. Unlike any number of bands influenced by so many similar bands, the Distant Seconds sound tight and measured – tempering their feedback and pushing their vocals back into the can just enough to give the impression that this band will explode at you during a live performance. After the ambient knob twiddling opener, “Throb In Unison” and “We’re Unstoppable” feature Matthew Baab’s lacononic Malkmus-esque drawl over a pulsing rhythm section starring Kirk Miles (bass) and Charles Ewing (drums) that will get hips shaking, heads bobbing, and beers flying. On “We’re Unstoppable” – one of the best songs of the year - Baab and Brandon Bunch (keys, synth, organ, everything else) weave a melody fraught with a hint of dark tension into one of the best Verlaine meets Mascis guitar solos ever recorded. In case the repeated chorus of “I’m not stopping/ I’m not stopping/ We’re unstoppable” didn’t sum up the band, this record, and their attitude, Baab’s ragged yet razor sharp guitar playing forces the point home.

Throughout the 11 songs on Spectral Evidence, the band shows the kind of knack for noise versus beautiful melody that Pavement, Silkworm, and the Ponys have celebrated. Like their musical forefathers, the guitar solos seem just fuzzy enough to hint at adult punks having fun with new toys, but the band never gets self-indulgent or off track. By the time Baab dials back the guitar bliss just a tad on “The Manual”, “Half A Believer”, and “Even The Help Are Dancing Now” and allows Bunch to shine, the realization is complete: the Distant Seconds are a complete band, not a one trick half baked act. Over the course of the album, Baab effortlessly shifts from the aforementioned disaffected vocals to the kind of urgency that made Silkworm’s one-two punch of Andy Cohen and Tim Midgett so compelling.

On “Your Politics”, Baab sings “Do you know how I know you?/ And do you understand how it feels to find love in the palm of your hand?” He probably wasn’t thinking it when he wrote those lyrics, but we know the Distant Seconds, because they are the perfect amalgamation of thirty years of rock. They have perfectly captured everything loved about thirty years of innovative rock, succinct song structures and tight melodies, wrapped it up in a neat package, and placed it in our hands. If rock runs in the bloodstream, then there’s absolutely no way not to know the Distant Seconds. So yes, we do understand how it feels to find love in the palm of our hands and our ears are thanking the Distant Seconds immensely.

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2 Responses »

  1. [...] very excited about. I really enjoyed making their full-length, Spectral Evidence, which just got a great review in the blog, Austin Sound. (I don’t particularly hear the Silkworm influence, but I’m a [...]

  2. Hey Matt,
    I just thought some of the vocals had the kind of barking tension that a lot of the Silkworm guys have. I think it’s the combination of the vocal delivery as well as the space in the songs afforded by the fact that they don’t have 19 guitar tracks for each song. It could also just be that I’ve been listening to Silkworm and Bottomless Pit so much that my brain needs a reset.

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