I will say this about Cymbals Eat Guitars; they make me want to be a better music fan. This is less holding them on a pedestal and more about turning inward. This is the collateral damage of music, sometimes it has unintended consequences. My reflection when listening to Joseph D’Agostino crank out his well-versed lyrics is that I wish they penetrated my brain better. The gravitation I feel to bands like the Hold Steady, Bad Religion and most recently, the Front Bottoms is that the respective vocalists enunciate their erudite vocals so well that even a distracted writer like me can follow along.
Everything I’ve read about Lenses Alien, the latest release by Cymbals Eat Guitars involves discussion about the expert narrative that D’Agostino crafts to go along with the distorted jangliness, frantic drumming, complex building blocks of guitar over guitar that makes up the foundation of their empirical indie rock. While I pick up on their quirky playing style, I can’t hear the lyrics. Again, this is on me. Not every vocalist has to talk-sing their way through their tracks to tell their story.
However, this leaves me feeling like I am left out of the cool kids club. While everyone else is polishing their plastic frames and discussing the poignancy of lines like: “what former police sits at the bus stop offering rides,” I receive sidelong glances for saying “they could be called ‘Wrens At The Drive-In’ on their sound style alone.” Who wants to hang out with that guy? Apparently people who wear plastic frames.
Like the aforementioned bands, Cymbals Eat Guitars are following their own road map to musical relevance. Until I give Lenses Alien a hundred more listens, I am going to take everyone else’s word on the trail mix of verbiage that D’Agostino sprinkles throughout his songs. There is enough in their unique, 90s style indie rock to keep me listening to the record over and over. My inattention to the vocals makes this an excellent album to write to, because the instrumentals carry on enough that I can focus on something else while still holding in my brain that the composition is great.
Like the bands before, Cymbals Eat Guitars make me rethink rock and what makes a band truly “indie.” To be independent is to not sound like everyone else. There are parallels to be drawn with Cymbals Eat Guitars, but there style is not what comes to mind when discussing their genre. Their ability to ride the crest and troughs of tempo, write melodically intelligent songs and keep my foot tapping will keep me returning to Lenses Alien and entering the album into my productivity library. And hopefully someday I get the lyrics.
Cymbals Eat Guitars – Rifle Eyesight (Proper Name) by memphisindustries
It’s a new season! Greg and Clay talk about Polyvinyl’s Exquisite Corpse project, the 20/20/20 project covering