Antlers - Antlers (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review


Antlers (2007)


"Influences: house shows."

That bit of information derives from the MySpace page of Richmond, VA's Antlers, and it makes perfect sense. Antlers will not likely ever be commercially viable, or even cater to a wide enough audience to fill huge clubs. Rather, they dabble in nearly all-instrumental, punky semi-math rock in the vein of Ghosts and Vodka, Pele and to a certain extent, Sharks Keep Moving. And frankly, that's good enough for me.

Reading the makeup of the septet/octet (depending on contributors being actual band members or not), one can see that Antlers' experimental tendencies are bred by their habits: They come from Gregor Samsa; Mass Movement of the Moth; Olive Tree; and Resonance. All these bands take unique spins on respective styles and Antlers is no different. Multi-instrumentalists like Taylor Burton (banjo, melodica, brass, etc.) and Mike Ashley (trombone, drums, glockenspiel) drive the band's songs with creative flourishes that give things flavor without gimmicky feelings. Even those touches, however, are merely complementing the bending notes and push-pull of the traditional guitars, drums and bass at the core of the songs. Things often take weird turns, but they're easy and intriguing enough to follow all along.

Vocals are sparse here, and when used only seem to set up a sort of eerie, vague mood. With "Water Tupelo," it seems like three or four of the members singing together, chorus-like, to introduce a track which doesn't truly get interesting until a few minutes in. Another spot is a melodic, practically hymnal chant, with another group effort, though Erin Tobey seems to provide some solo lines ("time turns to water") due to her only credit in the liner notes being vocals; it works a little better here, even though its creepiness doesn't quite match the playful, fuzzy nature of the rest of the song. Closer "White Fur [sic]" actually depends heavily on vocals, and it makes it a weird, catchy track.

This self-titled mini-album is a nice little treat, and like aforementioned, would imaginably be a fun catch live. Not to mention that the track listing gives you an informative lineup of varied kinds of trees.

Black Walnut
White Fur