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Album Review: TBA

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Album Review: Cherry Bloom – Open & Die

The Fennec Fox – what an amazing creature. Did you know… with their huge 6-inch ears, which are half as long as their body to help regulate their body temperature, they may look a bit feline, but they are actually one of the smallest members of the dog family and the smallest of all the foxes. They can be found in deserts (when you can spot them – they are camouflaged by their colour) where their main threat comes, surprisingly (considering the arid zones they live in) and yet unsurprisingly, from indigenous humans who hunt them for what little fur they have or for sale to tourists. Being social animals, they mate for life and their cubs can weigh as little as 50g. You won’t, however, see one at a rock concert (with those ears?) so quite why they are on the front cover of the new album is beyond me, but it gave me a chance to let you know just how cool they are (literally).

So now you want to know about the aforementioned band? Well, despite having one of the worst band-names in rock, they’re from Paris, France and they formed in 2005. However, the funnest fact about them is they’re a duo. To make up for their lack of bassist friends they, unlike the instrument switcheroo that perform, simply do without. They merely lay the vocals on thick, the crazily-named Octave Zangs performs all kinds of dynamic trickery with his guitar, and Julien Jourdan thrashes the living crap out of his kit. Open & Die, currently streaming in full here, is their second long-player and, like the best rock albums, it’s divided into gritty ragers and crafty structures that lurch between attack and release.

“Blood Rights” is a pacy, pounding track run through with screaming, distorted guitars and an adversely laid-back vocal delivery, whilst the title-track merely swaggers, ripped with a soulfully infectious bite. “Breaking Down”, with its prominently feisty wah-wah effect and affected, harmonised vocal is, unquestionably, like listening to on happy pills. Similarly, there’s no doubting the burnt-out dynamics of (and possibly Reuben too) in the lo-fi, garage rock of “Weeping Lights”.

The sweet heart of the album takes us from the lurching yaw and pinged strings of the excellent “Fall Of A Dead Whale” to the undersold acoustics and light, vibrato lead of “Flying Over”, swamping us with grungy elements. The half-spoken wordplay and dirty meandering around moods are caught betwixt and between sounding a bit like and a little like ’ debut. When they bite into the distortion, they do so with a swift crack of the whip. Then, for the crushing smack of “Lovely Deer”, they even manage to eke out a sweet -esque stoner vibe.

Being a two-instrument band, they definitely benefit from striking superbly clean lines; that freedom from instrument confliction that comes naturally with such a set-up. However, unlike ’ Jack White who manages to hold back from overcompensating with power, they occasionally hit the same brick wall that occurs when a twitchy sole and a distortion pedal come into contact. You can’t expect to simply plug gaps by colouring them in with a deafening scrawl. That’s half my problem with the collapsing wall of sound that ’s Jason Landrian creates with his crass pedal abuse and linked triple-amp set-up. For the opening wedge of the album, I simply had to yank up the level on my big sub-woofer to get anything like an acceptable level of balance – you simply cannot listen to this with standard issue iPod earbuds and get away with it.

However, even when you take this ever-present failing on board, there is more to love than to hate here, and you simply cannot argue when tracks like “Sick Rabbit” are being bandied about. Those snappy string-strikes and pitching, barbaric riff grip you like a vice. To be honest, even without it, “Fall Of A Dead Whale” swallows me hook, line and sinker every time.

Like the Fennec Fox, are an odd-looking animal who, because of their innate differences, face more problems than most but, by evolving in just the right way, they have so far managed to overcome them. Time will tell whether they continue to survive in this barren and hostile environment.

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